Recreational vehicles (RVs) are a rare sight on roads in China, but as more and more Chinese take to the roadwheel, seeking quality family time and even adventure, that may soon change soon.
According to the 2016 China Camping Industry Report published by SMART, a resorts industry platform, and Campave, a leading website that provides camping information, 15,000 RVs were sold in China duringin 2015, a puny number in the world's largest automobile market but 1.5 times more than the year before. To accommodate the surge in RVs sales, there were 958 camping sites, completed and under construction, in China duringin 2016, more than twice the same numberfigure in 2015.
Fueling the growth of RVs is the Chinese people's embrace of self-drive tours.
In 2015, self-drive toursventures accounted for 58.5% of all domestic tours. According to China Tourism Automobile and Cruise Association, that number would grow to 70% by 2020.
What's the best vehicle for a family outing? SUVs first come to mind. Statistics published by China Association of Automobile Manufacturers show that more thanover 9 million SUVs were sold in 2016, representing a 44.59% increase over the year before.
With the Chinese government's recent loosening of its family plan policy, space is set to be an even more important consideration for Chinesethose looking for a family vehicle. Typically much larger than SUVs, RVs could be an ideal choice for two-child Chinese families wanting to hit the road.
Complete with equipment that renders hotels, or at least budget ones, unnecessary, RVs could shave off significant accommodation costs from a family's traveling budget. The freedom to park the RV at the place of your choosing adds an element of adventure to the experience. Veer off the beaten roadtrack and spend a night far away from the crowd in the safety and comfort provided by a RV, or share your stories along the road or in life with other families at a RV camping site.
A lot of Chinese families were priced out of the RV market because there used to be little choice apart from expensive imported RVs. Domestic brands now offer a slew of RVs at less than 300,000 yuan, or about 43,532 USD, so you don't have to be super rich to drive a RV.
The Chinese government also threw its weight behind RV vacationing. Peng Decheng, head of the Planning Department at the National Tourism Administration, said RV tourism is important for the transition from attraction tourism to all-region tourism that would benefit rural and less developed areas in China.
Obstacles to people opting for RVs in Chinathe country are not to be underestimated. Lacking infrastructures at many RV camping sites is one of the most daunting ones, and restrictions ofon car ownership in some major Chinese cities such as Beijing and Shanghai makes it difficult to own a RV as a household's second automobile. Finding a place to park your RV when you are not on the road could also be a headache for many Chinese. As a result, peoplethe Chinese are yet to embrace RVs as a major way of travelling.
If RV camping sites in China could provide better services in terms of utilities, family-friendly facilities and vehicle maintenance, those free to buy more than one car may give RVs a try, which is always a good way to beat the rush to snatch a train or flight ticket in peak tourism seasons.