Chinese mobile app helps tourists find public toilets

A public toilet on a 6m-high pedestrian bridge in Chongqing, China.
A public toilet on a 6m-high pedestrian bridge in Chongqing, China.PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING - Locating public toilets in China can be frustrating for tourists, but a mobile app can help find nearby facilities with just a tap on a screen.

Launched at the start of this year, the system developed by the National Tourism Administration (NTA) and online mapping service provider amap.com has received 15 million visits from mobile users across China, reported Xinhua news agency on Thursday (March 1).

By tapping a button for "All Tourism Toilet Navigate" on the Amap smartphone app, users can see all public toilets within 2 km of their location and receive the recommended shortest routes.

The service includes location and direction information for nearly 500,000 public toilets, covering all 5A and 4A level scenic spots in China. The NTA ranks tourist attractions - from the lowest, 1A, to the highest, 5A - in terms of safety, cleanliness, sanitation and transportation.

The service aims to eventually include all scenic spots and cover other public facilities such as railway stations and restaurants.

It hopes to reach as many as 700 million people.

The app is the latest measure to help propel the "toilet revolution."

In 2015, the NTA began a three-year campaign to install new toilets and upgrade existing ones in scenic areas to provide sufficient clean, free, well-managed facilities to the public.

The effort will continue as plans have been announced to build and expand 24,000 public bathrooms in 2018 and 64,000 in the next three years.

The NTA and amap.com also published an index that measures the accessibility of public toilets in 100 cities based on figures including total and per capita toilet numbers, said Xinhua.

Southern China metropolis Shenzhen received the highest rating, followed by Foshan in Guangdong Province and Shanghai, with Beijing also in the top ten.