Campers at the camping base. The pictures are all taken by Pei Sitong, a trainee reporter of China Youth Daily and China Youth Network

Campers at the camping base. The pictures are all taken by Pei Sitong, a trainee reporter of China Youth Daily and China Youth Network

Beijing Near Mountain Park Camping Base. The pictures are all taken by Pei Sitong, a trainee reporter of China Youth Daily and China Youth Network

"In the past, when we went camping, we had a feeling of 'hunger and hunger', as if a tree and a lawn were enough for a base, but now we are pursuing a better environment and better service."


Is the phenomenal camping consumption during last year's epidemic going cold?

"Business is not so good." This is the most intuitive feeling of Xuanming, the manager of Beijing's Jinshan Park Camping Base, recently. He recalled that during the Qingming holiday last year, when the camping industry was booming, he only opened half of the camping site, but still welcomed nearly six or seven hundred customers every day, and the mobile phone also received a steady stream of customer inquiries, in desperation, he had to choose to refuse, "about 300 missed calls a day."

During this year's "May Day" holiday, Xuanming learned from last year's experience and opened all venues, but the passenger flow plummeted to half of last year's, and "there were only 60 or 70 tents on the most a day." After May Day, the number is even lower, "there are only about one or twenty tents on weekends, and no one may come for a day or two on weekdays."

But in Xiayang Village, Anji County, Huzhou City, Zhejiang Province, Bao Xin, the secretary of the party branch, calculated the village's camping revenue during this year's May Day — almost two or three times as much as last year.

The withdrawal of some practitioners does not represent an industry decline

There is an Internet celebrity campsite in Anji County, Zhejiang Province - "Xiaohangkeng", Bao Xin told the reporter of Zhongqing Daily Zhongqing Net that this year's "May Day" camp tourists are endless, and some tourists are stuck in traffic jams on the road for 3 hours. The manager of another camping base in Hangzhou said that after the adjustment of the epidemic prevention and control policy, not only did not divert the original local customer group, but also pulled a group of foreign customers from surrounding cities to come to the base.

The "2022 China Cultural Tourism Camping Industry Integration Development Research Report" predicts that the overall size of China's camping market is expected to reach 2023.1781 billion yuan in 4, about 2019 times that of 9. iMedia consulting data estimates that the core market size of China's camping economy will rise to 2025.2483 billion yuan in 2, driving the market size to 14402.8 billion yuan. According to the analysis of relevant institutions, the current penetration rate of China's camping industry is about 1%, and the market penetration rate of the United States and Japan is about 10%, and there is still room for significant growth.

Xiaohongshu's staff in charge of camping business told the reporter of Zhongqing Daily that Xiaohongshu's camping-related posting data this year increased significantly compared with the same period last year, with the average number of notes published daily in April and May increasing by 4%, and the average daily release in March and April this year increased by 5% compared with January to February.

Ding Shuo, the founder of China Outdoor Camping Life Exhibition, has been deeply engaged in the outdoor industry for many years, and in March this year, he led an outdoor camping life exhibition, which welcomed more than 3,3 participants in three days and a total of 5 exhibitors showcased nearly 163 brands.

In his view, the blowout development of the camping industry cannot be simply attributed to the accidental phenomenon driven by the epidemic, and it is also inseparable from the inevitable factors under the development of the times. Ding Shuo introduced that the well-known camping mode during the epidemic belongs to "exquisite camping", which is called "Glamping" in English, which is a relatively subdivided vertical category in the field of camping. In 2016, Oxford Dictionary officially included the word "Glamping" for the first time, "which is equivalent to saying that this is also a relatively new industry on a global scale." Although its sudden explosion in China is inseparable from the promotion of accidental factors such as the epidemic and social media, there is also a certain inevitability.

"First of all, because China is the 'factory of the world', many products in the global camping industry were previously produced in China, so China has a strong supply chain foundation in the field of camping. And because of the variety of types involved in 'exquisite camping', its market participants are also very large, which will form a relatively large industry driving force. Secondly, China's per capita GDP in 2019 exceeded 1,1 US dollars, which is an important threshold for the outdoor industry, because many countries have ushered in 15-20 years of development after the per capita GDP exceeds <>,<> US dollars. Ding Shuo told reporters.

The camping industry is now in the stage of reshuffle

In Ding Shuo's view, the withdrawal of some practitioners in the camping industry does not mean the decline of the camping economy.

Ding Shuo said, "If we make a portrait of these people, a high proportion of them take advantage of the camping fever, randomly pull a vacant lot, set up a few tents, and claim to have opened a camp."

In the camping industry, there was a saying that "50,3 enters, 1500 months to return the cost". Ding Shuo remembers that in the stage of camping, the daily rent of a camping space that costs 3000,10 yuan can be as high as <>,<>-<>,<> yuan, "which is equivalent to if you invest in a camping location, you will return the cost in about <> days." Why so many people want to do camp because it's really too high a input-output ratio."

However, most of these people only want to take the opportunity to make a wave of "hot money, fast money", and do not have the willingness and ability to deepen their efforts in this field for a long time. "Last summer, for example, there was a large area in the north that lasted about 35 to 45 days of high temperatures, which resulted in a large proportion of operators not having any income. This situation will dissuade many campers at once, and they will feel that this is too unreliable. Ding Shuo said.

He observed that around the Qingming Festival last year, almost all camping products were out of stock. A large number of merchants seized the wind and placed a large number of orders in the second half of last year. "Everyone is increasing production capacity, so the growth rate of camping equipment supply this year is much larger than the growth rate of demand, and it is difficult for some merchants to clear inventory." Ding Shuo said.

According to Tianyancha, at the beginning of 2023, more than 1,2 new camping-related enterprises were added in China, about one-third of the number of new enterprises in 2022. In the view of Xuanming, the manager of the camping base near the mountain garden, too many practitioners have influxed in batches, which has also led to the "overload" of the camping industry on the supply side. He remembers that when he first entered the camping industry in 2020, there were probably no more than 40 camping bases in Beijing, but now, there are at least 300, and there are still practitioners entering.

However, the quality of these enterprises entering the market in bulk is uneven, and problems such as weak infrastructure, insufficient public services, poor environmental sanitation, and many potential safety hazards are common. A consumer told a reporter from China Youth Daily: "I have been to a camping base before, probably because of the large number of people, its camp tents are particularly densely arranged, and then everyone is lighting charcoal, not only smoked, but also has great safety risks." But when we approached the boss and asked for more management, the other party had a very bad attitude and ignored us, and I would never go to a place like this again. ”

Mr. Li, a deep camping player, feels that the development of domestic camping equipment is not perfect, and the design, quality and after-sales service of some equipment need to be improved. Ding Shuo also believes that "low-quality equipment will affect consumers' experience of camping, which will have a huge negative impact on the camping industry." ”

"I think the camping industry is now a shuffle stage, and although some 'Internet celebrity camps' can make a wave of quick money in a short period of time, it is difficult to sustain it, because things that come fast also go quickly." Xuan Ming said.

The future of camping: regulation, integration and return to roots

"Strictly speaking, all the work of the camping industry in the past few years has actually done only one thing, that is, to popularize camping for the whole people, which is not a very good market economy." Ding Shuo believes that the next few years will be the beginning of the real standardized development of the camping industry.

On November 2022, 11, 13 departments, including the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the Central Civilization Office, and the National Development and Reform Commission, jointly issued the Guiding Opinions on Promoting the Healthy and Orderly Development of Camping Tourism and Leisure, which made clear provisions on the planning and layout of camping activities, land use regulations, industry development and construction and service specifications. Since then, Hefei, Shanghai, Beijing and other places have also issued relevant regulations for the camping field, and began to promote the formalization of the camping industry.

Some consumers told the China Youth Daily reporter, "In the past, when we went camping, we had a feeling of 'hunger and food', as if a base only needs trees and lawns, but now we are pursuing a better environment and better service." ”

Xuan Ming believes that the "low threshold entry" situation in the camping industry is difficult to replicate: "The camping industry increasingly needs refined services, do a good job in environment, safety and infrastructure protection, and precipitate old customers." And the manpower and material resources that need to be invested are huge, and this is not an industry that makes hot money. To do well, you must start improving your level of specialization and competitive advantage in the market. ”

At the same time, the camping industry has gradually become an important engine to promote the development of the local cultural industry. Since 2022, Zhejiang, Nanjing, Hefei, Lishui and other places have issued relevant documents to regulate and encourage the development of the camping industry, and promote camping to empower the local cultural tourism industry.

Xiayang Village, Anji County, Huzhou City, Zhejiang Province, is a typical representative of this. In 2020, Bao Xin, secretary of the party branch of Xiayang Village, relied on the natural scenery resources of Xiayang Village to develop a camping base, and 3 years later, Xiayang Village became an Internet celebrity campsite. In 2022, Xiayang Village received more than 10,300 camping tourists, with tourism income of <> million yuan, and the average annual income of villagers increased by more than <>,<> yuan, attracting some young people to return to their hometowns to start businesses.

Xiayang Village also cooperated with Xiaohongshu to build an offline camping experience center. On the basis of camping, develop other surrounding supporting activities. "For example, camping itself is an outdoor lifestyle, so we include mountain sports to supplement the camping format."

Ding Shuo said, "This year, we have a particularly clear feeling that the market is sinking. For example, last year, we found customers who were basically from Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou or the Pearl River Delta. But this year, our customers come from Baoding, Qinhuangdao, Dalian, Fuxin and other places. "This shows that the camping industry is no longer just from economically developed areas such as first-tier cities."

Bao Xin said: "Now many foreign governments have approached us and asked if they can export our model to them to do it locally. But in fact, this thing is difficult to completely replicate, local governments should sort out their local resources and find development projects suitable for their own characteristics according to local conditions. ”

Moving towards refinement and customization is the development direction of the future camping industry. The manager of the Hangzhou Valley Cottage Camping Base told the Zhongqing Daily reporter that in addition to the basic camping site, they also added activities such as catering, games, culture and art promotion, providing consumers with a variety of choices and meeting a variety of demands.

Combining camping with other outdoor programs like Valley Lodge is increasingly becoming a trend. Xiayang Village also plans to develop more formats outside the village, planning to integrate cafes, mountain sports, theme exhibition halls, offline experience stores and other projects. "In this way, a complete business ecology will be formed, the whole village will be more vibrant, and the flow of the camp will be more stable." Bao Xin said.

Xuan Ming believes that the explosion of the camping industry in the past few years is actually just a "false fire" in essence, "but everyone has no place to play, so they can only go to the campsite." But it doesn't really convey the intrinsic value of camping. He believes that the core of camping is to help people escape the hustle and bustle of the city, relax themselves in the connection between people and nature, and find inner peace.

He was very impressed by the presence of two customers in Xuanming's camp. One is a mother of an autistic child who has greatly alleviated the symptoms of autism through camping, "now she comes to my camp almost more than 20 times a year"; Another is an office worker, in the hustle and bustle of the city, she has been sleepless for a long time and has difficulty closing her eyes all night. But then she came to nature away from the city, and she fell asleep every night at 9 p.m. and found peace. "I hope to see that the camping industry can have more of these consumers, so that camping can return to its original meaning."

China Youth Daily / China Youth Network trainee reporter Pei Sitong Reporter Jiang Yutong Source: China Youth Daily