The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) has retained Edward Han to serve as the director of Asia affairs to help coordinate the association’s efforts in China and serve as a liaison with the Chinese and Japanese governments.
In this role, Han will pursue RVIA’s China initiatives and promote U.S. products to the Japanese market. This includes working with the governments from both countries on standards and regulatory issues, according to a news release.
A managing partner at Synorica Resources, Han has been advising U.S. companies on their China operations for more than 20 years. He previously worked for China’s Customs Agency and the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade.
Han began working with RVIA as a consultant in 2007 and has participated in each of the association’s trade missions to China. “Edward has a keen understanding of RVIA’s goals for the Chinese RV market and established relationships with our members and with key governmental contacts responsible for overseeing RV issues. With this background and experience, he is very well-suited to guide our activities in China and Japan,” said RVIA Vice President and General Counsel Craig Kirby, who is the liaison with RVIA’s China Committee.
Han, who was born in China but is now a U.S. citizen, is fluent in Chinese and English. He holds an MBA from the University of Texas – Pan American and a B.S. in Management from the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing.
China is diving head first into the development of campgrounds and its fledgling RV industry, according to industry representatives who recently participated in the 3rd Annual Hangzhou China Outdoor Lifestyle Show March 4-7.
Participating were Joe Laing of El Monte RV, a leading RV rental company with 70 locations throughout the U.S.; Bob MacKinnon of MacKinnon Campground Consulting, a designer and developer of campgrounds throughout North America and Australia; and Al Hesselbart, historian for the RV/MH Hall of Fame in Elkhart, Ind. Wolfgang Bock of Deutsche Reissemobil, the largest RV rental firm in Germany, also participated.
The foursome was invited to be part of a 10-person forum addressing Chinese media and government officials on concerns related to the establishment of a viable recreational vehicle industry and its related lifestyle in China. The international group was coordinated and hosted by N-Tours International, a tour promotion firm based in Beijing.
“What we got from the show is that there are a lot of Chinese people interested in RVing,” Laing told RVBUSINESS.com. “The question remains how that interest will work itself out. Everyone is unsure how the Chinese RV industry is going to further evolve. The thought I most expressed to them is they should use the American RV industry as a framework or guideline. We have the most successful RV market and the best RV market in the world.”
China has an existing camping population, but it is nearly all tent camping and the existing campgrounds are organized for tenters only, according to Hesselbart, who spoke on the evolution of RVing in America.
“They have a great selection of national parks and other camping attractions,” he said. “While they have the technology to build very fine recreational vehicles, there are at this time less than 50 RV campgrounds in all of China and no network of retailers or RV support businesses or publications.”
This year is the first that the Chinese RV manufacturers were given space in the show, which is the largest outdoor lifestyle show in Asia. The event showcased several small motorhomes all built on Sprinter chassis made by Mercedes Benz in China.
“A couple of outstanding 35-foot Class A motorhomes including slideouts were also shown, built by Chinese highway bus manufacturer King Long Coach,” Hesselbart said.
Chinese government has plans to develop 800 RV campgrounds within the next five years related to its many national parks and other attractions. Hesselbart said the Chinese officials feel that, at least for the present, the local RV lifestyle will be based on rental and not ownership of private rigs.
“They did discuss the establishment of a market for small towable units, but they are targeting the first development toward small, motorized units,” Hesselbart said. “It was somewhat surprising to the Americans that the Chinese use almost no automatic transmissions and all of the RVs were built with manual transmissions as were nearly 100 percent of the autos on the highway.”
In addition to the large forum at the show, the group met with several other camping-related groups and resort developers to discuss the types of conditions and services provided for RV camping in the U.S. and Europe.
“The group saw a dramatic enthusiasm to develop an RV lifestyle where their population is largely uninformed of the possibilities of self-contained travel for recreation or for business,” Hesselbart said.
There are 208 national parks in China, according to Laing, who shared information about the RV rental business.
MacKinnon spoke on site selection for campgrounds and the basic design strategy, and shared how to understand the market and market needs.
“I met with a lot of government officials and various industries and I got a strong impression that they are actively looking for ways to expand their tourism industry,” MacKinnon told Woodall’s Campground Management. “As I understand it the government has laid out a five-year plan and they have very specific goals for both national and international tourism.
“This show was a big deal. They showcased everything from patio furniture and umbrellas to RVs, and also outdoor recreation like kayaking and bicycling. Once the Chinese get the sequencing as to what needs to happen first, and they grasp the key ingredients, I think there will be some interesting growth in the country’s tourism.”
Editor’s Note: Three representatives of the U.S. RV and campground industries toured the Hangzhou International Outdoor and Leisure Fair March 4-7 in Hangzhou, China. The U.S. delegation included Joe Laing from El Monte RV, El Monte, Calif., Al Hesselbart, historian for the RV/MH Heritage Foundation Inc.’s Hall of Fame in Elkhart, Ind.; and Bob MacKinnon, owner of MacKinnon Campground Consulting, Murietta, Calif. The trio spoke March 4 during a forum at the fair. A four participant was Wolfgang Bock of Deutsche Reissemobil, the largest RV rental firm in Germany. The Beijing Auto Camping Association (BACA) co-organized the Hangzhou Auto camping and RV forum. BACA representatives visited RVIA’s Louisville Show in December in Louisville, Ky.
In an effort to jump start the RV industry in China, more than 800 booths were showcased at the largest outdoor exhibition in Asia: Outdoor Lifestyle Hangzhou, held this past week (March 3-7) at the Hangzhou Peace Exhibition Center in the city of Hangzhou.
The Outdoor Hangzhou event was jointly organized by China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Light Industrial Products and Arts-Craft and Hangzhou Municipal Government. The auto camping and RV industry development forum is co-organized by BACA (Beijing Auto Camping Association).
The booths showcased outdoor living, garden decorations and sporting goods, and attracted reputed suppliers, buyers and agents from around the globe, offering numerous opportunities for participants to share in the latest technological developments. The fair also held forums, which served as a trading platform for the benefit of all participants.
“The event will lead the trend and fashion of Asia outdoor, leisure and garden industry, obtaining unanimous recognition and securing active participation of global players,” said Xing Yun, editor-in-chief of CCTV.COM, the camping tourism website. “The outdoor furniture and garden and sport items sector in China have made great progress in recent years. China has developed as a powerful player in this sector, with an export to the U.S., Europe and Middle East, increasing by approximately 30% each year. Outdoor Lifestyle Hangzhou will be built as the communication bridge for the outdoor products to the world markets, serving the whole of outdoor industry.”
Though the RV industry in China is still at its preliminary stage, we’re told, the Chinese people are beginning to accept the campground and RV concept.
“China local governments and much of the Chinese people give special attention to the auto camping , RV and campground (sectors),” Yun said. “Many China local governments will plan to build their camping and RV campground now. There are many beautiful views in China. The auto camping and RV industry is a sunrise (up and coming) industry for China.”
According to Yun, from 2004 to 2006, there was a Europe-China RV communications project named “CASE,” which is the first auto camping international cooperation and communicaions project. CASE partnership involves four associations: BVCD (the German Federal Association of Camping Economy), BACA and DCB (Danish Camping Board).
“Many Chinese people have been to Europe, the U.S. or other countries to visit their RV exhibitions and campgrounds,” Yun said. For example, BACA representatives visited RVIA’s 47th Annual National RV Trade Show last December in Louisville.
“I have visited Caravan Salon Dusseldorf in Germany,” Yun said. “Also some European companies in Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland to visit their four to five star campgrounds. I also visited some U.S. campgrounds in 2009 after participating in the 47th RVIA trade show.”
Yun said people who pay the most interest in RVing in China include car owners (potential camping tourists), architects, land use planners, and construction companies, camping and outdoor clubs, manufacturers or traders of RV’s and equipment, car travel or leasing companies.