Tenting Is a Fad in China. Now Authorities Search to Regulate It.

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Local authorities across China are rolling out new rules for camping amid growing safety and environmental concerns, as the outdoor activities have attracted a new wave of vacationers amid tight coronavirus-related travel restrictions.

Several provincial and municipal travel agencies have issued guidelines to standardize various aspects of camping, and they apply to both campers and campers, domestic media outlet China News reported on Tuesday. For example, popular areas such as Beijing, Shanghai and Nanjing, along with eastern Zhejiang Province and southern Guangdong Province, have detailed the requirements for campsite operators, campsite selection and food hygiene practices in their rules published during the past few months.

Camping and glamping, or high-end camping, has become a trend among Chinese travelers as the pandemic has limited their options, with many choosing to stay closer to home during the popular holiday season. According to online travel agency Trip.com, bookings for camping trips during the week-long National Day holiday in October increased more than 10-fold year-on-year.

But as interest in camping increases, so do the problems that arise from outdoor activity. Many campers have been accused of polluting campsites with their rubbish, while flash flooding at a popular off-road campsite in southwestern Sichuan province in August left seven dead and eight injured.

The new guidelines also called on operators to strengthen management of fire hazards related to barbecues, bonfires and fireworks, as well as medical emergencies and COVID-19 prevention measures.

Chen Peng, an events manager at the camp, told local media that to mitigate the potential ecological damage from human activities, operators must have proper environmental training. He said without prior training, “newbies wouldn’t know what best outdoor practice is, even if they’re environmentally conscious.”

China’s camping market grew 62.5% year-on-year to 74.7 billion yuan ($10.3 billion) in 2021, data from market research agency iResearch showed. The camping boom has also contributed to the rise of related recreational activities, including frisbee and paddleboarding.

Publisher: Bibek Bhandari.

(Header image: VCG)