Chinese Eager to Learn About U.S. Camping
The Chinese public is not familiar with American-style camping, reports Mike Atkinson, facilities and development manager for Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA), Billings, Mont., who is currently on a trade mission to China led by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA).
“The interest in camping is bordering on frantic, though the Chinese vision of camping is very different from ours," Atkinson said in an e-mail from the 2008 China RV and Camping Show at the East Asia Exhibition Center in Shanghai.
Atkinson manned a booth with RVIA and Cummins Power Generation at the three-day show that concluded Sunday.
China has only 20 campgrounds and the largest campground has only 50 sites – all already outfitted with RVs because towing trailers on Chinese highways is illegal. The cost per night ranges from $14 to $70, Atkinson said.
“When show-goers stopped at our booth and saw what KOA is doing in camping … they were stunned,” Atkinson wrote. “(They also were) disappointed when I told them KOA had no plans for Chinese expansion and that we were here to help them expand on their own.”
Following the show, part of the 18-member contingent will visit four factories in the Liyang area and will tour the facilities of China's only RVIA member, CenTech Specialty Vehicle Ltd. in Tianjin. CenTech is China's largest motorhome and travel trailer manufacturer and exports iCamp travel trailer and folding camping trailers to the U.S. through United Recreational Vehicles, Hackensack, N.J.
The trade mission will conclude with a visit to Great Wall Motors in Beijing, a manufacturer of Class B and C motorhomes and specialty vehicles.
“We were very pleased with the first part of our trade mission,” RVIA President Richard Coon said in a release from China. “It provided us with the opportunity to broaden our understanding of the Chinese RV market, continue our dialogue with key officials and hopefully set the stage for further discussions to make China RV-friendly for our members.”
Other companies sending representatives on the trade mission included Coachmen RV Co., Inc., Middlebury, Ind.; Jayco Inc., Middlebury, Ind.; Fleetwood Enterprises Inc., Riverside, Calif.; GE Capital Solutions, Tampa, Fla.; Velvac Inc., New Berlin, Wis.; BRD Supply Inc., Bristol, Ind.; Airxcel Inc., Wichita, Kan.; United Shade LLC, Elkhart, Ind.; and Lippert Components Inc., Goshen, Ind.