Xi’an, home to the famed Terracotta Warriors, has launched a citywide campaign to clean up its public toilets for a more pleasant experience for locals and tourists.
The capital of Shaanxi province has set up a leading group to steer the work and appointed “toilet chiefs”, neighborhood office employees tasked with regularly checking facilities, according to the city tourism administration.
If a restroom at a tourism spot or attraction does not make the grade, the officials responsible for sanitation, including those at district level, will fail their annual work assessment, said Zhang Yongke, director of the administration.
The move is part of China’s “toilet revolution”, launched in January 2015, which aims to ensure cleaner public restrooms in scenic spots as well as equip them with Western-style toilets, soap and even amenities like big-screen televisions, free Wi-Fi, ATMs and sofas.
According to the China National Tourism Administration, some 100,000 public toilets will be built or renovated nationally between 2016 and 2020.
Li Jinzao, the agency’s director, said that a dirty toilet destroys the efforts of all kinds of tourist resort promotions and the negative impression is hard to erase.
The administration has forecast that China’s tourism market will generate more than $760 billion in revenue in 2017, up from the $683 billion in 2016.
Feng Min, 57, a tourist from Shenzhen, Guangdong province, said it was not easy to find a toilet when she visited Xi’an recently, and the one she did find had a bad odor.
Wu Yihui, a retired tour guide, said foreign tourists he worked with in the late 1980s would return to the hotel for the bathroom since even toilets in museums were not clean.
“Now, the city’s public toilets are much easier to find and cleaner, but there is still room for improvement,” Wu said.
The central government has set a national standard for toilet management, which covers layout, hygiene and evaluation indexes for odor.
Xi’an authorities said that all toilets in the city’s public area and at tourism attractions and facilities should meet the national standard.
The city will also encourage businesses frequented by the public, governmental organs and institutions to open their toilets to the public free of charge.
“With increasing contact with the rest of the world, we should pay a lot of attention to the issue of toilets, which reflects a city’s friendship, social development and cultural atmosphere,” said Zhang Baotong, an expert in social and economic development with the China Academy of Social Sciences’ Shaanxi branch.