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New draft raises the standards for public restrooms

Su Zhou
Updated: Feb 16,2016 7:32 AM     China Daily

Portable toilets at the Confucius Temple Scenic Zone in Nanjing, Jiangsu province. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Tourists in China are expected to see cleaner public restrooms with no bad odors but also equipped with Western style toilets, soap, big screen televisions, free Wi-Fi, ATMs and even relaxing sofas.

The China National Tourism Administration released on Feb 14 the revised draft on the construction of and sanitary standards for toilets in tourist areas and expects the majority of such facilities to meet the general standard by the end of the year.

The draft was unveiled in Wuhan, Hubei province, during a national conference on toilet standards.

Differing from the star-rated evaluation system, the revised draft is more practical and covers more areas outside of scenic spots, including transportation hubs, restaurants, entertainment zones and shopping malls.

In addition to the general requirements required for A-level certification, the minimum rating, restroom facilities would need to meet broader criteria for the highest rating, AAA, such as providing toilet facilities that broadcast music as well as additional services such as wheelchair rentals.

Li Shihong, deputy director of the administration, said properly managed restrooms are crucial to tourism development, especially when many places in China are trying to promote an entire city, rather than just scenic spots, as a tourism attraction.

“We will collect reviews and complaints from tourists, and those toilets that fail to provide proper service will be put on a tourism toilet blacklist,” said Li.

Other measures will also be taken to make sure that tourists and other travelers won’t frown when answering nature’s call in China. For example, Internet technology such as mobile applications will be available to help tourists find nearby toilets.

China started a three-year campaign in January last year that aims to build 33,000 restrooms across the nation by 2017 and renovate 24,000 facilities.

This year, a total of 1.25 million yuan ($192,000) will be invested to build or renovate 25,000 tourism toilets.

Restroom construction has long been neglected in China. Overseas tourists in China find it challenging to use public restrooms that feature unfamiliar squat toilets, long lines and an absence of toilet paper.

Li Jinzao, head of the administration, said China has upgraded its toilets considerably. Now, even in remote rural areas, tourists can avoid the embarrassment of using pit toilets.

“However, we have to admit that, compared with other countries such as Japan, we still have a lot of work to do,” said Li.

To sustain the improvement of toilets, local governments are encouraged to outsource restroom facilities to private enterprises, which could develop restroom facilities into a service center or a platform for advertisements, Li added.

Factbox

The China National Tourism Administration has proposed a three-level classification for public toilets in tourist areas.

General requirements:

1. Waiting time should not exceed 10 minutes.

2. The ratio of male and female toilet cubicles should be under 2:3; the ratio of Western style toilet to squat toilets should be higher than 1:5.

3. There should be toilet signs to guide tourists, and for toilets open at night, the signs should be readable in the dark.

4. Scenic spots with entrance fees should not charge tourists for using toilets.

A-level requirements:

1. Time to reach a toilet should be no more than 10 minutes.

2. In addition to male and female cubicles, there should be a family toilet.

3. Toilets should offer services like free charging for mobile phones.

AA-level requirements:

1. Time to reach a toilet should be no more than 8 minutes.

2. Western-style toilet cubicles should offer paper seat covers.

3. Toilets should offer services like free charging for mobile phones. Within areas with weak mobile communication signals, toilets should offer free Wi-Fi service.

AAA-level requirements:

1. Time to reach a toilet should be no more than 5 minutes.

2. Toilets should broadcast suitable background music.

3. Toilets should offer services like free charging for mobile phones. Within areas with weak mobile communication signals, toilets should offer free Wi-Fi service. If necessary, toilets should also offer lending services including wheelchairs, umbrellas and walking sticks.

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