LANZHOU, Oct. 6 (Xinhua) -- Jian Jie stopped her motorhome by Qinghai Lake, China's largest inland saltwater lake, and took out the food she had prepared to make hotpot with her family.
"It's really an unforgettable experience to have such a gourmet meal in nature," said Jian, a local resident of Lanzhou, the capital city of northwest China's Gansu Province.
Jian spent more than 1,000 yuan (around 147 U.S. dollars) on the daily rental fees of a recreational vehicle (RV). Inside the RV is almost everything required for daily life: bed, bathroom, kitchen, TV and refrigerator.
"Compared with hotel arrangements, RV travel is more cost-effective and suitable for a family trip. And the best part of RV travel is the freedom," she said.
Affordability, convenience and personal freedom have made RV travel increasingly popular among Chinese tourists.
Zhang Shiqi, general manager of the Gansu Guantianxia international travel agency, said there were more than 400 RVs launched in northwestern Chinese cities of Xining and Lanzhou including 140 units from her company, and all of the vehicles had been reserved in early September.
"Affected by the COVID-19 epidemic, many tourists no longer choose to go on organized tours, and RV travel has gained traction with complete facilities and a unique experience," Zhang said.
China's northwestern region is sparsely populated, and the advantages of RV travel are becoming prominent. Gansu Province spans more than 1,600 km from east to west, over 400 km longer than the distance between Beijing and Shanghai.
Gansu is home to more than 20 RV campgrounds. Compared with the mature RV market in Europe, the maintenance and after-sales services of RVs in northwest China are still insufficient, according to Jian.
Many Chinese know of RVs from the 1998 movie "Be There or Be Square," but "RV tourism is still at the initial development stage in northwest China," said Zhang.
With consumption upgrading in the tourism market, Zhang sees a bright future for RV travel expansion. "On one hand, the number of campgrounds is increasing, and their management is improving; on the other hand, enterprises are trying to introduce more people to RVs through auto shows and test drives."
Data from China's Ministry of Culture and Tourism showed a positive trend in the recovery and development of the country's tourism industry, with epidemic control measures in place.
In July and August, all tourist resorts around the country reopened, and the number of tourists recovered to about 90 percent of last year's level, as had the revenue figures.
Currently, there are more than 100 RV brands in China. Provincial-level regions including Gansu, Xinjiang and Qinghai in the country's northwest are actively building RV campgrounds and improving the supply service of RVs during their journeys.
"RV travel creates a new lifestyle, and I like it very much," said Jian.