As more travellers seek out independent travel in off-the-beaten-path places, tour operators in China are seeing a rise in the demand for self-drive and campervan, or recreational vehicles (RV) itineraries among both domestic and foreign tourists in the country.
Exhibitors at the recent China International Travel Mart (CITM) 2019 – which this year sports an entire hall dedicated to RV sales and services – told TTG Asia that China is fast becoming an attractive self-drive destination amid a growing legion of RV fans.
“Although the popularity of RV in China is lesser as compared to many western countries, demand is growing. For the past three years, we are seeing 50 per cent more customers each year compared to the previous year. Most of our foreign tourists come from the US, Europe and Australia,” shared Hiram Yin, sales manager, Yutong RV.
He added that trips can stretch from 10 to 20 days, and popular seasons are the summer holidays and Lunar New Year spring season. RV trips can give travellers a “sense of freedom”, as well as “feeling of homeliness” no matter where they are, and without the worry about accommodation expenses, explained Yin.
Autumn sees more campervan trips heading to northern China, such as Heilongjiang, Liaoning and Xinjiang, while winter will take RV travellers south to places like Yunnan and Hainan.
Campervans have also allowed China’s more rural counties to enjoy increased footfall. Arxan, a county-level city in Hinggan League of Inner Mongolia, has opened two main campervan sites located near the A’ershan National Forest Park and the Budong River.
“Arxan is especially rural, but more people are choosing to ride up there to enjoy our untouched natural attractions, fresh air and hot springs,” said Zheng Xiaoming, chief, industry development unit, Arxan Culture Tourism and Sports Bureau.