Indoor Glamping and RVing – Welcome to Post-Pandemic outbound tourism

by Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Georg Arlt FRGS FRAS

Dear Reader,

Fendi, an Italian luxury fashion house is setting the tone for the post-pandemic Chinese outbound tourism, even with no Chinese outbound tourists present yet, by opening for two weeks in Hong Kong a Fendi urban ‘glamping site’, which opened on 20th May at the ground floor atrium of Ocean Terminal.

A glamping coffee truck is in place to serve Fendi-themed beverages and snacks, while another ‘glamping site’ is open in the Harbour City and to capture their fashion moments with the brand a specially designed Vintage Polaroid instant camera is offered in the Fendi Canton Road store.

Together with trips with Recreational Vehicles (RVs), glamping has developed as a major trend in China especially during the last 18 months, when millions of Chinese citizens who would otherwise have flown off to global destinations had to find pleasure closer to home thanks to the borders closed by the CoViD-19 pandemic.

According to a recent article in Jing Daily, 2021 accordingly saw camping and RVing content boom on Chinese media, with programs like the Zhejiang Satellite TV “Star Chaser” (追星星的人) and iQiyi’s “I Told the Spring About You” (春日). For “Star Chaser,” Zhejiang TV assembled a cast of young celebrities including L’Oréal and Lamborghini brand ambassadors for a camping-themed reality show that sees a rotating set of guests join the hosts as they visit scenic spots around China. “I Told the Spring About You” combines the camping reality TV trend with the similarly popular food TV trend by sending five celebrities of Generation Z around China to experience the sights together with the local food of different destinations.

This follows last years rise of “slow living,” single-living”, and “homebody lifestyle” content, which was employed in streaming programs like iQiyi’s “I Want to Live Like This” (我要这样生活) and Youku’s “Not a Loner” (看我的生活). Content centering on enjoying the comfort and security of a mobile home while glamping or exploring the countryside in an RV has proven popular as part of the “Back to Nature” trend. European luxury brands including Gucci and Loewe have already started to offer new collections around this theme.

RV travel in China is a recent development, but is catching up quickly, with more than a thousand new companies started in 2020. As a result of lockdowns and the closure of the borders, millions of Chinese were drawn to the option of exploring the country by themselves in rented or newly bought RVs or through self-driving trips organized privately or with the help of travel sites like Qunar. Many of these RV trips are not long-distance drives, but rather aim to visit nearby parks and destinations. This trend to more earthbound, shorter trips could be seen also reflected in the results of the Qingming and the May holiday periods, which saw a return to 2019 levels in the number of trips taken, but still only 60-70% of 2019 expenditures.

The trend to get closer to nature, which was confirmed in the 2021 Spring and Summer Report from Bilibili, Tmall and Alimama (part of Alibaba), will also make it possible – and necessary – for international tourism service providers to adapt products and services and to develop new ones for the different Chinese source market segments of the coming wave of outbound travellers: More adventure-based nature experiences for the younger generation up to 30 years of age, educational nature experiences for families, and luxury-based nature experiences for the growing number of silver travellers (55+ years of age).

 

We said so before, but will say so again: Now is the time to prepare for the new trends, now is the time for rural destinations to make sure that they get a bigger slice of the Chinese outbound tourism cake than before the pandemic, helping to fight overtourism by dispersion of the Chinese visitors to more areas in the country.

As always, all best wishes from Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Georg Arlt and the whole COTRI WEEKLY team!