This May 30 to June 8 (2014) International Federation of Camping and Caravanning (IFCC) is holding an inaugural event at a campsite in Yanqing County close to the spectacular Great Wall and Longqing Gorge in China. The 10-day gathering for outdoor and RV enthusiasts from around China and the world is being sponsored by the Belgium-based Federation International de Camping, Caravanning et de Autocaravaning.
Visitors to the IFCC Show at Yangquing will be treated to a wide variety of activities, including a music festival, dragon-boat races and Chinese folk culture. There will also be trips to explore nearby ancient cities and helicopter rides over the Great Wall and to the picturesque prairie of Yongning.
This IFCC rally will be one of the most important gatherings of campers and caravans on the planet this year and its collaboration with Chinese tourism acknowledges not just a Chinese growing interest in caravanning and camping, but there desire to open up their campground to foreigners.
While China’s RV and caravan market remains minuscule compared to the North America, Australian or even European markets, it is on the upswing. The RV China Association expects sales to increase 40% between 2012 and 2015 to close to 4,000. Chinese tourisms organizing committee have stated in the China Daily that they want to encourage the trend for both domestic and international travellers.
Caravanning in China
In China RVs and caravans are almost always less than six metres long and most travellers rent them for short family leisure trips and weekends out of the city, rather than longer road trips.
Mainland China has of almost 4 million kilometres of highway, but along this massive network there are probably currently only 30 or 40 sites specifically for caravans and RVs.
In the north of China road conditions are better, especially the route from Beijing to Inner Mongolia. There are numerous campsites just a few hours from Beijing and near the Great Wall for weekend campers. However, in the south, large caravans and RVs have problems moving because of the dense population and poor, narrow roads.
Another challenge for tourists is the language. At present almost all information on Chinese campsites are in Chinese.
Increasing Interest among Domestic Chinese
For the emerging domestic Chinese RV enthusiasts, caravanning isn`t about budget travelling or roughing it in nature. Trips in RVs and caravans are seen as holiday option to keep the family together in comfort and even luxury.
A NY Times article in October 2013 entitled Chinese Embracing the Perceived Freedom of RVs interviewed a number of Chinese caravanners in parks around the nation.
“They symbolize freedom and luxury,” said Fang Liping, a teacher from Beijing. He was sharing a rented Wolf Pack-brand R.V. with three generations of family during Golden Week (a state holiday in China).
If the effort put into the International Federation of Camping and Caravanning Rally and the Chinese Organizing Committee is anything to go by, more Chinese and international visitors will be hitting the road at updated campsites in years to come.