Camping Holiday

Camping Is a Fad in China. Now Authorities Seek to Regulate It.

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

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

Camping and glamping, or high-end camping, have become trendy among Chinese travelers as the pandemic has curtailed their options, with many choosing to stay closer to home during popular holidays. Bookings for camping trips increased more than tenfold from last year during the weeklong National Day holiday in October, according to online travel agency Trip.com.

But as the interest in camping has surged, so are issues arising from the outdoor activity. Many campers have been blamed for polluting the campsites with their trash, while a flash flood in a popular off-road camping spot in the southwestern Sichuan province caused seven deaths and eight injuries in August.

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

Chen Peng, a camp event manager, told local media that operators must have proper environmental training to alleviate the potential ecological damage from human activities. He said without prior training, “newbies wouldn’t know what’s the best practice outdoors, even if they are environmentally aware.”

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 boom in camping has also contributed to the rise of related recreational activities, including frisbee and paddleboarding.

Editor: Bibek Bhandari.

(Header image: VCG)