A program to guard the environment around Erhai Lake, a popular tourist attraction in Southwest China, has resulted in loss of income and business closures. Li Yingqing reports from Dali, Yunnan, with Zhao Yimeng in Beijing.
At the end of March 2017, more than 2,000 restaurants and hotels in a popular tourist spot in the southwestern province of Yunnan were forced to close for at least a year. The shutdown was part of a local government campaign to improve water quality in Erhai Lake, the second-largest freshwater body in the province.
The Dali Bai Ethnic autonomous prefecture, where the lake is located, became a popular tourist attraction after Breakup Buddies, a romantic road comedy set in Dali, hit box offices in 2014. City dwellers began to regard the lake as a quiet bolt-hole from their crowded, busy lives, and the local scenery and nearby Cang Mountain range matched their expectations of Utopia.
To deal with the environmental damage that resulted from the rise in visitor numbers and the proliferation of hotels and restaurants, thousands of establishments were ordered to close until they conformed to new regulations related to the environment and business practices (see fact box).
Though most of the hoteliers are in favor of the clean-up campaign, many are dismayed by the revenue they have lost and the more competitive market they now face.