CANBERRA, Feb. 8 (Xinhua) -- A study by the Caravan Industry Association of Australia has revealed that caravan or camping trips are increasingly popular among Chinese tourists in Australia.
"Chinese visitors... are increasingly seeking new and different experiences in Australia," Hugh Fitzpatrick, Industry Researcher with Caravan Industry Association of Australia, told Xinhua in an email interview on Friday.
The researcher mentioned that in 2018, approximately 14,000 Chinese visitors stayed in caravan parks while in Australia.
Over the past 10 years, Chinese visitors have been a key source of growth for tourism around Australia, including the caravan and camping sector. In 2017 alone 14,175 Chinese visitors spent a cumulative total of more than 124,000 nights in caravan parks. This represented a 180 percent increase in nights and a 126 percent increase in visitors from 2016.
Figures from Tourism Research Australia showed a similar trend, as the number of Chinese visitors to Australia on group and package tours declined by 8.4 percent in 2017.
"Chinese campers are unique because they often have never stayed in a caravan park before. 80 percent of people we interviewed had never stayed in a caravan park before," said Fitzpatrick.
Unlike traditional markets of Europe and North America, the Chinese market are relatively new to caravan and camping, with the research highlighting that they are seeking flexible unique experiences that caravan and camping can offer.
According to the pilot research which was based on sample from 214 Chinese visitors who had stayed the previous night in a caravan park, although access to items such as rice cookers, and increased wifi capabilities in caravan parks might seem cliché, these things go a long way in terms of helping Chinese travelers to feel comfortable and enjoy their stay.
Fitzpatrick also noted that Chinese visitors need assistance in understanding elements of staying in a caravan park or hiring a motorhome because the product is relatively new to them.
He told Xinhua that behind the trend was the rise of the middle class in China, who had more disposable income than ever before. "There are more Chinese who want to travel overseas and have experiences that their parents may not have had," he said.
"These travelers are often looking for good value accommodation and in our research project, 73 percent agreed that staying in a caravan park was good value for money," he added.
Besides, Chinese visitors are more well-travelled than before, so they have more confidence in visiting new destinations in different ways, Fitzpatrick said.
"We are also finding that Chinese visitors are loving Australia's nature and wildlife experiences and staying in caravan parks and using motorhomes are an excellent way to be close to and experience Australia's nature and wildlife," he said.
More measures were also being taken to attract Chinese visitors.
"Destinations outside of major cities are ... having more Chinese language support through things like signs, safety instructions and product manuals," added Fitzpatrick.
Tourism operators are also catering to more payment options such as Alipay and WeChat pay to make it easier for Chinese travellers to leave gateway cities and experience regional and rural Australia, said the researcher.