Camping gear in demand as Chinese in COVID-stable areas splurge on ‘revenge travel’

While lives of residents in Beijing and Shanghai remain restrained as local authorities ramp up COVID restrictions to keep the latest Omicron outbreaks under control, those living in areas where the pandemic situation is currently stable can enjoy more mobility, therefore, making ‘revenge travel’ trips during the just-concluded May 1 Holiday (Labour Day).

Although China saw its domestic travel revenue plunge by 42.9% to 64.68 billion RMB ($7.81 billion) with 160 million trips (a 30.2% year-on-year drop) made during 2022’s first long holiday, short-distance trips within the same province or to neighbouring regions have become mainstream for tourists seeking to make up for their long-awaited travel plans, with camping being the biggest salvation for the tourism industry during this tough time.

Both Fliggy and Qunar (two of China’s major travel agencies) have seen orders for camping products (hotels and trip deals) triple whilst Ctrip saw a five-fold increase in orders (an equivalent to the former two) during the five-day holiday compared to the year before. Moreover, more than 2 million notes of users sharing camping related content have mushroomed on China’s largest lifestyle-sharing platform Xiaohongshu, showing a strong desire amongst the public to embrace nature during one of China’s busiest tourism seasons.

Such enthusiasm has naturally driven a demand for camping equipment, pulling up sales of relevant products such as hammocks, tents, foldable chairs and picnic supplies on and Tmall (two of China’s e-commerce giants) by 180% and 200% respectively.

Moreover, hotels near spots suitable for camping, especially those based in cities including Guangdong, Shenzhen, Zhejiang and Jiangsu, have seen bookings rise three fold, compared to that recorded a week before the holiday. Searches for tourist accommodation in Zhangjiajie (one of China’s tourism hotpots in Hunan province that is famed for its natural landscape) surged by 500% thanks to its relaxed travel restrictions.

Despite the lingering impacts of the pandemic coupled with China’s stringent COVID rules, there is still hope that the hospitality industry will see a strong recovery in the coming months. As China takes cautious steps to reopen, the country’s travelling fever is expected to heat up further.  


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