Camping Holiday

Tourists ride holiday high with short trips

Visitors walk through an attraction in a park in Zaozhuang, Shandong province, on Oct 8, 2022. [PhOTO by HONG XIAODONG/FOR CHINA DAILY]

More travelers turn to self-driving, camping options for major vacation

Travelers across China are showing a growing preference for camping and self-driving tours on the back of the increasing popularity of short-distance trips, with many of those made over the just-concluded National Day holiday, according to the latest industry figures.

About 65 percent of Trip.com users traveled to places near their work areas and homes during the seven-day holiday — from Oct 1 to Friday — with expenditures on related tours rising by 30 percent from the same period last year, according to figures from the online travel group.

Camping remained popular among travelers during the holiday, with orders for camping-related tour packages via its platform growing tenfold year-on-year, according to the group.

Nearly 80 percent of the camping tour destinations were near users” workplaces or homes, while about 15 percent involved travel to neighboring cities or suburban areas, the group said. Average expenditure on camping was about 650 yuan ($91.30), up 30 percent from spending during the Mid-Autumn Festival holiday in September, it said.

Travelers aged 30 to 39 favored camping tours organized via its platform, especially families with children. About 83 percent of these travelers stayed overnight at campsites and enjoyed leisure activities such as fruit picking offered by local farms, according to the group.

Chen Yi, 31, spent two days and one night at a farm in suburban Beijing with her family this National Day holiday. She said it was a relaxing trip.

“We were concerned about COVID-19 control measures that may cause some uncertainty in work-related matters after the holiday, so we decided to spend the break in Beijing rather than visit other places,” she said. “It was my husband’s idea to go camping. He is a fan of such niche activities.”

Chen said that their camping site was within farmland about two hours’ drive from downtown. “The air is quite fresh there and the owner of the farmland is also friendly and generous. We made quite good memories there.”

Deng Ning, vice-dean of the School of Tourism Sciences at Beijing International Studies University, said that people showed more preference for short-distance tours during the seven-day break mainly in consideration of any sporadic COVID-19 outbreak. They also favored self-driving tours and some niche destinations as their main concern was to avoid crowds.

A number of destinations became top draws during the recent national holiday, such as Nan’ao Island in Shantou, Guangdong province and Meizhou Island in Putian, Fujian province, attracting travelers with breathtaking coastal views, figures from travel agencies showed.

Prices of hotel accommodation also rose briskly over the recent vacation period, with expenditure on hotels for short-distance tours increasing 10 percent over the break, according to Trip.com figures.

Wu Ruoshan, a visiting researcher at the Tourism Research Center of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that travelers are changing their travel options and consumption preferences, focusing more on safety amid epidemic control work.

It is necessary for travel agencies and companies to be aware of travelers’ safety considerations on top of their tourism offerings, he said.