CALGARY -- Anticipating another record-breaking camping season, Alberta Parks has implemented a staggered approach for booking campsites and pledges to hire more staff as the pandemic promotes 'stay-cationing.'

The online booking portal went live at 9 a.m. Thursday for the southern region of Alberta, with start times staggered in two-hour increments for bookings in other regions of the province.

Reservations may be booked within a 90-day window, meaning bookings made at launch could have an arrival date of no later than June 2.

Officials expect this camping season will be very busy as the summer of 2020 was the busiest season in Alberta to date.

Reservations skyrocketed last year by more than 5,000 per cent.

The provincial government says the additional demand on provincial campsites is part of the reason why reservation fees have increased by between $1 and $3 per night depending on the site.

The province has pledged to employ 50 additional full-time workers to help maintain Alberta's parks during the anticipated busy camping season.

Group camping remains closed unless public health officials further ease restrictions.

As part of public health measures, shower facilities will remain closed at campsites for the foreseeable future and any cancellations for COVID-19-affected campers will receive a full refund, including the now increased reservation fee

Alberta Parks tells CTV News that there are no limits on who can book these sites for residents of Alberta or from other provinces, but strongly encourages everyone to follow health measures in place.

In British Columbia, camping is closed to non-residents through July 7. At present, campers from other provinces may make reservations for stays beginning July 8 or later.

Officials in B.C. say priority is being given to British Columbians and "the message remains to stay close to home and avoid non-essential travel."