Wang Tao recently drove a recreational vehicle, or RV, from his hometown in Kunming, Southwestern China's Yunnan province, to Zhangjiajie — a famous tourist city — in Central China's Hunan province, realizing one of his long-held dreams.
RV tours have become increasingly popular in China in recent years. The country launched the new C6 driver's license in April, which renders more drivers eligible to get behind the wheel of certain types of RVs. By early October, Chinese authorities had issued 346,000 such licenses, allowing the RV tourism market to embrace more development opportunities.
Government authorities, enterprises and businesspersons in China are looking for new ways to stimulate the country's massive tourism sector, and RV tourism is one possibility.
The 2022 China Tourism Summit Forum, held on Nov 20 in Zhangjiajie, saw industry insiders share their opinions on high-quality tourism development and the recovery of the sector amid COVID-19 prevention and control measures.
Duan Qiang, president of the China Tourism Association, said in a video speech that the pandemic has increased uncertainty surrounding tourism development, but the huge demand of consumers for tourism has not changed, and the vitality and strong resilience of culture and tourism still exist.
Dai Bin, dean of the China Tourism Academy, said that amid the pandemic, people's needs for urban leisure and rural tourism should be regarded as new innovation growth points.
The Hunan Provincial Department of Culture and Tourism said that over the past decade, the province's tourism revenue has risen 19.3 percent annually on average. In the first three quarters, the province saw 316 million tourist trips, up 2.99 percent year-on-year.
The pandemic has slowed the development of tourism in Zhangjiajie as well as the rest of the country, but many involved in the industry are still confident about the future.
"We are also constantly improving related support facilities for our homestay and participating in various trainings," said Wu Guosheng, a homestay operator in Zhangjiajie.
Shu Xinggang, deputy Party secretary of Zhangjiajie, said that amid pandemic prevention and control measures, the government should accelerate the development of new tourism products and models such as wildlife exploration, healthcare and research tours, and promote the integration and development of information technology and tourism.
Besides driving RVs, camping, cloud museum tours and other forms of tourism have also gained popularity among people.
The Ministry of Culture and Tourism and 13 other government bodies recently released a guideline on fostering the orderly development of camping, highlighting the construction of public campsites and enhancing service quality.
The guideline calls for the vigorous development of various types of camping sites such as self-driving caravan campsites, tent campsites and youth camps to meet diversified camping needs.
"Without driving far, we can enjoy leisure in suburban areas by camping, and it is a new experience for our family," said Hu Mingqi, a resident of Panjin, Liaoning province.