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Camping sector pitches up amid COVID scares

By HU YUYAN | China Daily | Updated: 2022-05-21 09:30

Campers spend their holiday at a suburban park in Zhoushan, Zhejiang province, on May 1. YAO FENG/FOR CHINA DAILY

Increasing interest in exploring great outdoors during Labor Day holiday

Last year's Labor Day holiday was marked by plaid picnic blankets but this year's was overtaken by camping tents, an industry insider was cited as saying by news website xinhuanet.com.

A tourist surnamed Wang told Beijing Business Today that he and his family couldn't go on long-haul trips for this year's Labor Day holiday from April 30 to May 4 due to COVID-19 outbreaks in multiple parts of the country.

"So I took my family on a camping trip in a park outside the city. It was very relaxing and pleasant to get together with family and friends in a scenic place with mountains and rivers," Wang said.

Searches for "camping" hit a record high on online travel platform Ctrip on the first day of the Labor Day holiday, up 90 percent week-on-week. Bookings for camping trips placed on online travel platform Fliggy recorded a month-on-month surge of more than 350 percent during the five-day break, said a report by Beijing Business Today.

According to market research company iiMedia Research, the market size of China's camping sector jumped 78 percent year-on-year to 29.9 billion yuan ($4.45 billion) in 2021. The figure is estimated to hit 35.46 billion yuan this year, xinhuanet.com reported.

Wu Ruoshan, a researcher with the Tourism Research Centre of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told Beijing Business Today that due to COVID-19 uncertainties and restrictions, in-depth, quality tours of local attractions became the mainstream during the Labor Day holiday. There was a notable trend of big city dwellers traveling to nearby suburbs and villages.

Another reason behind the camping craze is that widely used social media platforms such as Tik-Tok and Xiaohongshu have driven up the popularity of campsites, Shen Aixiang, founder and CEO of homestay management solutions provider Smart Order, told Hangzhou Daily.

Industrial boom

The camping boom has fueled the growth of related industries. Figures from corporate information provider Tianyancha show that the number of camping-related companies in China has grown rapidly over the past five years. More than 9,100 new ones registered in 2020 and over 20,000 registered in 2021.

Since Jan 1, more than 7,000 camping-related companies have been set up, xinhuanet.com reported.

Online travel agencies have launched campaigns and products to tap into the potential bonanza.

Ctrip released rankings of campsites based on indicators such as facilities, safety and the density of tents. Mafengwo hosted a livestream competition among campers that gave out awards based on the performance of their livestream sessions. Tuniu introduced short-haul camping trips such as a two-day camping getaway to the Huanghuacheng Lakeside Great Wall Reserve in Beijing's Huairou district, according to Beijing Business Today.

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