China is spending billions on building more and better toilets for tourists, both domestic and international.
They’re calling it a “toilet revolution” — and it’s another step in China’s vast upgrading of public facilities. Bathrooms at tourist sites, notorious for primitive conditions and nasty odors, are a special focus of the campaign.
Launched two years ago, the revolution calls for at least 34,000 new public bathrooms to be constructed in Beijing and 23,000 renovated by the end of this year.
Authorities are also encouraging the installation of Western-style sit-down commodes rather than the more common squat toilets. Nearly $5 billion has already been spent on the program, according to the National Tourism Administration.
“Today in China, people are highly enthusiastic about tourism, and we have entered a new era of public tourism,” Zhan Dongmei, a researcher with the China Tourism Academy told Associated Press. “The expectation of the public for the toilet is becoming higher.”
One common problem is toilet paper. To get a top rating from the National Tourism Authority, bathrooms must be stocked with TP. But the stuff tends to disappear quickly, as users stock up for the next bathroom which may not have any.
To counter that problem, tourist authorities in China’s capital have begun using facial recognition technology to limit how much paper a person can take. The new technology dispenses just one 60-centimeter (2-foot) section of paper every nine minutes following a face scan.
The ultimate target, Zhan said, “is to have a sufficient amount of toilets which are clean and odorless and free to use.”