Last week was China’s first long holiday after the new tourism law came into effect. Along with the law, the Chinese National Tourism Association published a 64-page “Guidebook for Civilized Tourism” on its website in anticipation of Golden Week, the national holiday stretching from Oct. 1 to Oct. 7. The results? Well, according to People’s Daily, China’s tourism etiquette still has a long way to go. It’s estimated that China’s 125 scenic spots received more than 31 million visitors during the seven-day holiday this year. At the Tiananmen’s Square flag-raising ceremony on National Day (Oct. 1) eight years ago, 19 tons of garbage were left after the festivities, whereas this year, only five tons of trash were left behind. Yes, only five tons.
It’s not all bad news for tourism in China; with the help of the new laws, a few places have managed to curb the collective desire to graffiti and litter. In Wuhan, Hubei province, several electronic graffiti walls have been erected around the Yellow Crane Tower, hoping to combat the long-standing “tradition” of leaving small messages at historic or scenic sites. On these walls, people can sign their names, have them emailed to themselves, and even pay staff to write custom calligraphy. This has dramatically reduced the amount of graffiti at the site, and other tourist attractions are considering following suit. The trash problem is another story though, and even with the release of the CNTA’s etiquette guidebook, many tourist spots in China are still suffering. At the iconic West Lake in Hangzhou last week, volunteers picked up more than 7,000 cigarette butts in a single day along the lake’s shores. Baby steps China, baby steps.
[By Lauren Holdcroft]