China toilet revolution
The government installed or renovated 68,000 toilets between 2015 and 2017 Reuters file photo

China has decided to extend its so-called "toilet revolution" for three more years with an eye on attracting both domestic and foreign tourists. The government announced on Sunday, 19 November, that it plans to refurbish or set up more than 64,000 public toilets between 2018 and 2020.

In 2015, the government launched a three-year plan to improve the conditions of public toilets across the country. Under the scheme, which has been touted as hugely successful, the Beijing administration was able to either install or renovate 68,000 toilets at tourist destinations surpassing the target of 57,000.

"Compared with the rapid growth of the tourism industry and people's increasing demand for better lives, the development [of toilets] is unbalanced and inadequate. Another three-year programme is urgently needed," said Li Jinzao, chief of the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA).

Li added that clean public toilets are indispensable to improve the tourism sector. According to the CNTA's action plan, the project aims to "provide good, clean toilets that are reasonably distributed and effectively managed", the official Xinhua news agency reports.

Around 47,000 new toilets will be built while more than 17,000 facilities have been earmarked for renovation. The 2015-18 programme amounted to about $3bn, but the cost of the new project is still unclear.

Public toilets are a major source of dissatisfaction in China especially for tourists, who often complain about unsanitary conditions. The Chinese government has been pushing to revitalise the services industries, particularly the tourism sector, as part of its efforts to compensate for the weakening demand for exports.