Beijingers Feel Drawn to the Open Road
The biggest recreational vehicle and camping rally in China took place in Beijing’s Fangshan district over the weekend, attracting more than 100 RVs and their owners, the China Daily reported.
During the three days, more than 3,000 people attended the 2010 China RVing and Camping Rally, and about 10% of those without an RV showed strong intentions to make an order.
Niu Jie, a woman in her 20s, who came from Xi’an with her family, told a salesman at the rally she didn’t want to wait two months for an RV.
“We want to join the convoy to Europe organized by www.21rv.com next year,” she said. “My parents want an RV now because they want to try short trips within China first to gain some experience before the coming marathon journey.”
Wang Xudong, chief information officer with the Beijing-based website 21rv.com, said the success of the rally was a clear signal that there was consumer demand for RVs.
However, he said the lack of campsites is holding back the development of China’s RV market.
“Europe has more than 30,000 RV campsites and the U.S. has 16,000; we, in contrast, have only several dozen,” he said.
“Campsites are so rare in China that I always park my RV in a local farmer’s courtyard,” said Li Jibao, an RV owner in his 50s who attended the rally and who has taken his family to all parts of China except Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region in his RV since 2007.
Wang said an RV campsite requires more than just grass. “It requires water and recharging facilities and also facilities to deal with waste and to guarantee sanitation and hygiene.”
In Japan, RV campsites are usually combined with nearby entertainment facilities, such as mineral springs, fishing sites, museums and fun fairs.
China Travel Service (HK) Group Corp. has announced that it will invest heavily in building two RV areas in Miyun district, Beijing Youth Daily reported on Thursday.
Wang said RV campsites in Fangshan and Huairou districts will also be boosted within five years, which will make Beijing China’s leading RV-friendly city.
In China, there are 3,600 RVs — 500 of them in Beijing — compared with around 8.6 million RVs in the United States.
Yuan Zhijun, a salesman with Tuo Ma RV, said Metro, a domestic RV brand that has been involved in the industry for 10 years, has potential but is still in its early days.
He said the company relies heavily on other types of vehicles to keep the RV business alive.
“The business is getting better since last year. We perceive it as a promising industry and don’t want to give up easily,” Yuan said.
In Europe and the U.S., more than 80% of the RVs are cheap attached trailers, which cost about 150,000 yuan each.
However, cars produced for the Chinese market are not equipped with linking devices to connect trailers and running trailers in China requires a special driving license and number plates
As a result, Chinese RV lovers have to choose the more expensive type of RV, a motorhome.
But for the growing number of RV lovers in China, the joys of this leisure mode of travel far exceed the constraints.
Li said he loved the independence and freedom brought by the open road.