Camping Culture and Industry in Japan

Kazuhiro Akase
Secretary General
F.I.C.C. Asia-Pacific Commission

Ladies and gentlemen,

First of all let me introduce myself. I am Secretary General of the F.I.C.C. Asia-Pacific Commission and Executive Director of Japan Auto Camping Federation. The Asia-Pacific Commission is a regional sector of International Federation of Camping and Caravanning, or "F.I.C.C." for short. Japan Auto Camping Federation is the only national organization in the field of camping and caravanning in Japan, and it was established exactly forty years ago.

In Japan, the camping using automobiles is called "auto camping,." It is the concept in which camping and caravanning are combined.

Now, about the main theme of this symposium,"Building a communication platform and speeding up the development of national camping industry," it may be helpful to describe the history and present the situation of the camping in Japan, as Japan is the most developed camping nation in Asia.

Since I will give my presentation later, let me just summarize the historical background to the camping in Japan: About forty years ago, that is in the 1960s, when Japan entered an era of high economic growth, the auto camping started. At that time, the word "auto camping" sounded very fresh and attracted more and more people to this new type of leisure. But it was not until the 1980s that the auto camping saw a boom. It was exactly when the high economic growth was over and the stable or low growth period began. The working time became shorter, the number of holidays increased, and people placed more value on the leisure than working, in other words, more value on their family than their company.

And finally in the 1990s, not only the private companies but also the governmental bodies invested a great deal in building auto campsites of high standard so that Japanese people could spend their leisure time in a healthy and economical way around the country.

Now in Japan, about 8 million people enjoy auto camping at more than 1,300 auto campsites. According to the relevant statistics on campers, campsites and recreational vehicles, Japan is one of the biggest camping countries in the world.

From this experience in Japan, I could give some suggestions on the development of camping in China.

All preconditions for a start of the camping and caravanning already exist in China. China has launched the industrialization and motorization. It is expected that the sales volume of automobiles in Chine will exceed 10 million vehicles this year and China will be the world's biggest country in this regard.

It is also expected that China will overtake Japan as the second biggest country in terms of GDP (Gross Domestic Product). As a result of this high economic growth the middle class of people will be formed in the Chinese society, which should be a core group to enjoy the camping and play an important role in its development.

Based on such background, I believe that this symposium "2009 China International Forum of Camping Leisure Tourism" is an epoch-making event in the history of China. It will create an opportunity for people to begin camping as a leisure, which is expected to be popularized here very quickly. And I am sure that China will be the world-leading country very soon in the field of camping and caravanning as well.

Thank you for your attention.

December 2009 (Symposium at Hainan Grand Hotel, China)

Mark of Asia Pacific Commission

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