Tourists in China are expected to see cleaner public restrooms with no odours 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 Sunday 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.
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-certification, the minimum level, 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 travellers 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 (S$269,000) 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 centre or a platform for advertisements, Li added.
"The building and management of clean tourism toilets is not only the job of governments, but also the duty of citizens," he said. "And tourists should use the toilets with good manners."