Finding a public toilet while traveling in China is about to become much easier. The country is planning what has been dubbed as a “toilet revolution.” As part of a major investment—$290 billion—to boost tourism between now and 2020, the government wants to build or upgrade 100,000 public restrooms, according to Reuters and CityLab.
By 2020, China wants to increase its tourism industry from 10.8 percent of its yearly economic growth to 12 percent, and part of that means making it more comfortable and appealing for people—especially those who aren't used to squat toilets—to travel there. Positioning oneself over a smelly hole isn’t exactly on anyone’s list of exciting travel plans.
The plan will mostly target declining industrial cities in northern China, which the government hopes can remake themselves into tourist destinations.
According to the World Bank, only 77 percent of China has access to improved sanitation facilities, meaning that they provide hygienic separation of humans from excrement. (In comparison, the United States has 100 percent access.) Most of the areas lacking proper facilities are in rural China, though, which may not be hotbeds of tourist activity.
The China National Tourism Administration recently released a proposal for new sanitary standards for public toilets in tourist-heavy areas that include Western-style toilets, soap, no odors, and more. The bar for the highest restroom grade is pretty high, too—blowing any U.S. rest stop out of the water. To achieve a AAA rating, a restroom will have to broadcast music and provide services like wheelchair rentals. The new investment in public toilets will include upgrades to bring existing facilities closer to those standards.