Jan 09, 2015 06:11 PM

Check Crowd Capacities, Tourism Body Tells Country's Scenic Spots

(Beijing) – The national tourism authority has told scenic areas to determine the maximum number of people they can handle at one time, a week after a fatal stampede killed dozens in Shanghai.

The China National Tourism Administration said on January 6 that the sites should take into account the impact of crowds on infrastructure, the environment and traffic.

It has also suggested proper crowd levels for different scenic spots, saying tourists should have between 2.5 and 10 square meters in ancient street areas and archeological sites like the terra cotta warrior attraction in the northwestern city of Xi'an.

The stampede in Shanghai's riverside Bund area on New Year's Eve killed 36 revelers and injured another 49. Witnesses said fewer police officers were at present in the area than in previous years and a subway station and roads that has been closed on the holiday in the past were open.

Fewer crowd-control measures were in place apparently because the local government cancelled a popular annual light show. The Shanghai government says people came to the area on their own.

Du Yili, a vice director of the tourism administration, wrote in a January 5 article that the eastern city's government should still be held responsible for the stampede even if it did not organize any official celebrations.

The tourism administration said that calculating crowd capacities would help site regulators take precautions such as blocking roads near parks once sites reach 80 percent capacity. Surveys would also allow local authorities to better coordinate with other government departments on crowd control, it said.

Zhang Jinhe, a member of China Tourism Geography Specialist Committee, said determining the capacity of a tourism site required scientific studies. Strong enforcement would also be necessary, he said, but Chinese law offers little help in this regard.

The committee is part of the Geographical Society of China and researches the environmental and other impacts of tourism.

Authorities running scenic spots would have to expand their resources for real-time monitoring so they could act before crowds were too big to control, Zhang said.

Crowds often peaked in size during the public holidays, like the weeklong Spring Festival and National Day periods, and the government should consider other ways for the country's workers to take their breaks, he said.

China's popular tourist spots, such as West Lake in the eastern city of Hangzhou, are packed during major holidays, and it is common to see small fracases erupt at ticket sales booths and other spots.

(Rewritten by Li Rongde)

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