Caravaning tourism on the road to success – Interview with CIVD Managing Director Daniel Onggowinarso

Photo credit: CIVD
Photo credit: CIVD

There are more than 1.7 million camping vehicles in Germany, according to the study “Wirtschaftsfaktor Campingplatz- und Reisemobiltourismus in Deutschland 2020/2021”. In the run-up to CARAVAN SALON, we talked to Daniel Onggowinarso, Managing Director at the Caravaning Industrie Verband e.V. (CIVD), about the findings of the study and their significance.

Vacations with caravans and motorhomes are individual, flexible and safe. This made caravaning tourism attractive for German vacationers, especially in the past two years, and an important driver for the tourism industry in Germany. It is therefore not surprising that 41 percent more motorhomes were newly registered in 2020 compared to the same period of the previous year. This is the conclusion drawn by the German Institute of Economic Research for Tourism (dwif) in its study “Wirtschaftsfaktor Campingplatz- und Reisemobiltourismus in Deutschland 2020/2021” (German for “Economic Factor Caravanning Tourism 20/21“).

On the occasion of the CARAVAN SALON, which takes place from August 27 to September 4, 2022 (Preview Day for media and trade visitors on August 26) in 16 halls and on the open-air grounds of Messe Düsseldorf, we talked to Daniel Onggowinarso, Managing Director at Caravaning Industrie Verband e.V. (CIVD) about developments in camping and motorhome tourism and the caravaning industry.

“RV parks offer incredible tourism and economic potential”

Editor: In your opinion, what are the most important findings of the study?

Daniel Onggowinarso (DO): The presented 14 billion euros turnover through caravaning tourism is an extremely impressive figure. According to the latest figures from the dwif, the figure has even grown to over 15 billion in the last twelve months. These revenues have been particularly important for vacation regions in recent years, because during the pandemic many tourism sectors declined and important sources of income were lost. As a result, caravaning secured tens of thousands of jobs.

In addition, the study illustrates the great added value that offers to caravaning travelers have for municipalities: Even with low-threshold overnight accommodations, regions can significantly increase their tourist appeal. This applies in particular to areas that are less developed in terms of tourism.

How is this possible?

DO: RV parks make a major contribution to this, because compared to other overnight accommodations such as hotels, RV parks are relatively inexpensive and uncomplicated to implement. Among other things, more and more farms and wineries are taking advantage of this, making the overnight accommodation options for caravaning vacationers even more varied. This is a real win-win situation for all concerned.

The increasing popularity of mobile travel is also making the expansion of the caravaning infrastructure more and more relevant. You also take this into account with offers for visitors to the CARAVAN SALON. Tell us more about this.

DO: We want to make municipal decision-makers and private investors even more aware of the issue of caravaning infrastructure. RV parks, as mentioned, offer incredible tourism and economic potential, especially for less developed regions. Many decision-makers are now aware of this, but we want to do more to raise awareness among the rest. The Motor Caravan Pitch Day and our model pitch on the open-air site are very good channels for this. The second Motor Caravan Pitch Day on Monday, August 29, offers insights into the topic and provides inspiration and best-practice examples. At the model pitch, interested parties can take a look at pitch concepts under real conditions, ask questions and get advice.

“Motorhomes and caravans are well on the way to becoming smart homes on wheels”

Just as caravaning tourism is currently booming, the topic of young talent is certainly becoming increasingly important. How is the industry positioned here?

DO: Since the previous specializations of the “body and vehicle construction mechanic” apprenticeship are very much focused on the automotive sector in terms of content, we have joined forces with the Central Association of Body and Vehicle Technology (ZKF) to create the new specialization “caravan and motor home technology”. This is tailored to the specific requirements of the caravaning sector and covers special aspects of the production, repair and maintenance of recreational vehicles – for example, in the area of sanitary systems and liquid gas. In addition, materials such as wood and GRP are used in motorhome and caravan production, and classic automotive mechanics tend to be untrained in their use. The new specialty is a real milestone for our rapidly growing industry, which is thus actively meeting the enormous demand for specialized skilled workers.

This demand is bound to grow as future technology increasingly finds its way into the industry. What trends and developments can we expect in this area?

DO: The ongoing electrification of vehicles is an important future topic for our industry. Caravans with electric drives, currently being tested, could support the towing vehicle in the future, for example. In addition, the battery performance of passenger cars is improving all the time, which would significantly increase the range of the combination. The additional support also ensures greater driving comfort and safety. In the compact motorhome segment, electric drive models will increasingly be launched on the market in the future. For larger motorhomes, it currently remains to be seen how the chassis manufacturers will solve the challenges in terms of weight, range and costs.

As customers’ expectations of convenience continue to rise, vehicles are also becoming more and more connected and intuitive to operate: controlling on-board technology via smartphone has long been an industry standard. For example, it is possible to conveniently check fill levels or adjust the heating and air conditioning before returning to the vehicle via an app. Motorhomes and caravans are well on the way to becoming smart homes on wheels.

Thank you very much for the interview, Mr. Onggowinarso.

By the way, the Allensbach Institute for Public Opinion Research (IfD) also conducted a potential study on the importance of caravaning on behalf of the CIVD and found that 1.2 million campers have concrete intentions to buy leisure vehicles in the next one to two years. If you are one of them and would like to take a closer look at the diverse range of products in this segment, you should get your tickets for the CARAVAN SALON now. Please note that this year, too, this is only possible online in advance.

You want to get more insights into the CARAVAN SALON? Then read our interview with Project Director Caravaning & Outdoor Stefan Koschke and tell us which highlights you are particularly looking forward to this year.

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