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Happy campers exercising 'tent-up' demand

By ZHENG YIRAN | China Daily | Updated: 2021-08-12 09:48
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Campers enjoy themselves at Dare Glamping's campsite in Daxing district, Beijing, in July. CHINA DAILY

'Glamping', or glamor camping, now part of leisure lexicon as consumers return to nature while practicing social distancing

With consumption upgrades and the revival of the tourism industry in China, a new type of camping is gaining ground as a leisure business, attracting an increasing number of tourists.

Different from traditional camping options, which often involve meticulous packing of tents, ropes, sleeping bags, binoculars, telescopes, foods and beverages, a new style of high-end camping provides complete facilities and offers a luggage-free experience.

"In addition to camping necessities, the camping base offers all things that you can possibly think of-earplugs, air mattresses, blankets, mosquito repellent, toiletries, meats, barbecue facilities, beer and ice buckets. It is just so convenient. I can just tell my friends: 'Let's go camping and head off with no preparation,' said Beijing's Meng Ke, who has experienced the new type of camping.

Xiaohongshu, a lifestyle platform, said that during Dragon Boat Festival that fell between June 12 and June 14 this year, online searches for "camping" surged 400 percent year-on-year, and Beijing, Chengdu of Sichuan province, Shanghai, Chongqing and Hangzhou of Zhejiang province topped the list of camping search destinations.

Xiaohongshu added that camping in suburbs involves short driving times, satisfies people's desire to be close to nature and is thus gaining in popularity.

"Many camping enterprises were at full capacity during the Dragon Boat Festival. They said that it was hard to get a tent without a reservation," said an official from Xiaohongshu.

Zhu Xian, founder of new-type camping Dare Glamping, said: "Although our campsite in Daxing, Beijing, just opened, a couple of days before the festival, the tents were all booked out. On June 14, a total of 60 tents filled up the over 7,000-square meter campsite."

"Glamping" is a combination of glamor and camping-essentially luxury camping.

And people's enthusiasm about camping started long before this year's Dragon Boat Festival. In April 2020, when the contagion in China was being brought under control, camping went viral online.

Data from Xiaohongshu showed that in 2020, camping-related posts increased 271 percent year-on-year, while views of such posts surged 170 percent year-on-year. Between Jan 1 and May 31 this year, camping searches were 428 percent higher than that in the same period of last year. With the popularity of camping, "camping gear", "campsite recommendations" and "camping photos "become hot topics on Xiaohongshu.

According to Qichacha, a Suzhou, Jiangsu province-based company that tracks business registrations, in 2020, camping-related enterprises soared by 8,521, or 227 percent year-on-year. This year, by June 10, there were 7,854 newly registered camping-related enterprises.

Chen Xiquan, an official from the marketing department of Hi King Wild Luxury Camp, has been witness to the surging popularity of camping: "Currently, almost every weekend, our campsites are booked out. However, last summer, the reservation ratio of our campsite in Xi'an was only 70 percent."

Lyu Ning, deputy dean of the School of Tourism Sciences at Beijing International Studies University (BISU), said: "Currently, camping, especially new-type camping, which is luggage-free, is very popular among young consumers. The new-type, high-end camping is expected to become an important, rising form of leisure activity in the suburbs."

Lyu said the popularity of camping is partly because the pandemic has added to people's preference for open spaces. Besides, young people, who are a major consumption group, are the main users of social media and content platforms.

"When camping becomes trendy on these platforms, they tend to follow the trend, and also share their related experiences, further promoting the spread of the trend," she added.

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