Visitors to the ancient city of Dali in southwest China's Yunnan province will be charged an entrance fee starting Sept 1 in order to cover maintenance costs, the government announced on Saturday.
Every tourist visiting the site with travel agents will be charged 30 yuan (S$6.52), and the city will collect 1 per cent of business income generated by shops and stalls in the city, according to the Dali Ancient City Protection Administration Bureau.
Individual travelers are exempt unless they enter several specific scenic spots of the city.
Dali is the ancient capital of Nanzhao, which flourished during the 8th and 9th centuries, and the Kingdom of Dali, which reigned from 937 to 1253. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Yunnan.
"The government investment is far from enough to cover the protection costs of the ancient city," said Yang Junbiao, the deputy head of the bureau.
Charging the entrance fee will greatly ease the shortage of capital and is an important tool to protect the city, Yang said.
The 2.25-square-kilometer city had more than 5 million tourists in 2014.
"The use of the entrance fee will be open to public supervision," Yang said.
The money will be spent on city planning, public service infrastructure, firefighting equipment and ancient building renovation, he said.
Yang said charging the fee might dampen tourism revenue in the short term, but will have long-term economic and social benefits.