Caravanning – a surprising segment of Chinese tourism

It seems there is no corner of the travel sector left untouched by the growing Chinese market.  It might not be the first thing which comes to mind when thinking about Chinese tourists, but caravanning is on the rise in China. This growing trend will be reinforced by Beijing’s All in Caravanning Exhibition 2016, taking place from 18 to 20 June.  The exhibition is in its 5th year and over 300 exhibitors will attend.

Caravans bring freedom and luxury to busy Chinese

The Chinese perceive caravans as offering luxury, freedom and the opportunity to get away from crowds in cities and busy tourist sites.  Short breaks in static caravans are currently most popular, especially near Beijing and in the north where roads are most suitable.  Here caravans offer an alternative to hotel accommodation and an escape to the natural environment with clean air, green scenery and outdoor living.

But the trend towards purchasing and travelling with a caravan is growing too, and overseas caravan manufacturers are struggling to keep up with demand as many vehicles go straight from seaports to buyers.  Caravans, motorhomes, teardrop trailers and awnings are in plentiful supply on Alibaba.  More than 3,000 caravan parks are under construction in mainland China and many more are in the pipeline.

The on-the-road Chinese caravanning pioneers, known as red ants, are usually senior business people and managers who have spare time and cash.  And at the extreme end there’s even a globetrotting caravanning couple who are 57 countries into a worldwide tour.

And caravanning is an outbound travel trend too

And it’s not just an in-China development.  One Australian caravan park is reporting record Chinese arrivals, and China is now their largest overseas market.  There’s been a rush to translate caravan park websites into Mandarin, and many parks have added Chinese language signage and information on site.  Managers are learning basic Mandarin phrases and using information sheets in Mandarin to better communicate with Chinese guests while campervan rental company Britz Maui has produced a DVD in Chinese to explain the rules of the road.

This is a trend which spans generations: families, older couples and groups of friends are all trying out the delights of static caravan holidays and beginning to move into touring caravans. Last year the International Federation of Camping and Caravanning held its inaugural event in Yangqing County in the shadow of the Great Wall.  Whilst still far from mainstream, this surprising strand of Chinese luxury travel is definitely on the increase.


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