Tenting a brand new journey pattern through the Nationwide Day vacation

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A campsite in Beijing. [Photo/IC]

422 million people take a tour during the National Day holiday meaning travel is back on the menu. Camping, which offers niche tourism with less human contact but closer to nature, has become the pinnacle of holiday fashion since the outbreak of Covid-19. Ctrip data shows that during the National Day holiday, camping tourism orders increased more than 10-fold compared to the same period last year, with local orders accounting for nearly 80%. The cost of camping per capita is about 650 yuan, which is about 30% more expensive than the Mid-Autumn Festival.

One such camping trend sees many white tents sticking out from the suburban lawns, with a long table full of various cups, plates, dishes, drinks and food nearby. Some campers even equip themselves with a grill oven on which sausages and burgers sizzle. Children chase each other while adults chat and eat snacks. What a life! When night comes, someone hangs a string of yellow lights on the tent and takes a guitar to put on a live concert.

Compared to the long road of inter-provincial tourism, camping is not limited by the location and, more importantly, by the length of the vacation. Now there are impressive camping packages that have been invented. Camping plus fishing, camping plus paddle yoga, desert camping plus campfire party, island camping and other diverse combinations are popular with young people. In addition, camping is not limited to nature, but even penetrates into the heart of the iron city. An example of this point is a pioneering camping activity launched from Guangzhou Tower in March 2022. By setting up a municipal camping site with various exquisite equipment, such as star lights, camping blankets, etc., people can enjoy a panoramic view of the Pearl River.

Domestic consumption preferences and travel modes have changed, sparking a new trend of short-haul and high-frequency tourism, hit by sweeping factors such as repeated pandemic waves, economic downturns and consumer sentiment. The popularity of camping, hiking and other outdoor tours has increased significantly over the past two years compared to 2020 and even before the pandemic. JD data shows that the market size of China’s camping economy will reach 74.75 billion yuan (US$10.5 billion) in 2021, with year-on-year growth of 62.5%. Related varieties also played a role. With the release of “Camping Life” and “Divas Hit the Road Camping Season,” search frequency for keywords like outdoor and camping increased 375% year over year on JD Online.

Camping is often a symbol of decent income, good cultivation and leisure, but the rapid growth of China’s camping market goes far beyond that. As the pandemic restricted travel radius, micro-vacations like camping, which were short distance and experience-oriented, gradually became mainstream tourism. In addition, in the course of the pandemic, the focus has increased on a healthy lifestyle. This focus on exercise and longing for nature, in turn, promotes the development of ecological, low-carbon and greener cultural tourism products such as camping and the surrounding economies associated with it.

In addition, camping not only allows people to temporarily escape from the city to enjoy nature and promotes parent-child relationships through nature education, but also gives people a sense of the ritual social clock. Camping, originally a part of outdoor sports, has gradually become a way for city slickers to relax and socialize. On the one hand, despite the normalization of pandemic prevention and control, there is a demand from city dwellers for outdoor social interaction; On the other hand, camping was packaged with advertising in short video platforms as a sophisticated lifestyle that attracts many young people. However, it’s not hard for the youth to see that camping is just one way to take urban social scenes outdoors. Sitting on the deckchair and posting photos on social media, they will quickly realize that camping has nothing to do with outdoor activities, but with calling somewhere else.

However, we cannot deny that camping is, to some extent, a way to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and a compromise to the risks of tourism through the provinces during the pandemic. The essence of camping is still the enthusiasm we have for life, because camping has friendship interactions, parent-child comrades and various unexpected situations. We still crave romance even during the pandemic. We want to be surrounded by nature, delicious food, and most importantly, people we love. It is therefore worthwhile for us to put the cell phones aside and immerse ourselves in the romance of camping.

Dai Jiahuan is a student at Guangdong University of Foreign Studies. The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

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