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'Mr. Toilet': Beijing needs 'No Fly Zone'

By Elizabeth Yuan, CNN
May 24, 2012 -- Updated 1004 GMT (1804 HKT)
A man in Beijing checks out one of the toilets newly constructed before the Olympic Games in this July 5, 2008, picture.
A man in Beijing checks out one of the toilets newly constructed before the Olympic Games in this July 5, 2008, picture.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • New standards cover public toilets in areas tourists frequent
  • World Toilet Organization founder Sim suggests "No Fly Zone" would be better
  • Access to improved sanitation among U.N.'s eight Millennium Development Goals by 2015
  • Sim says improving public toilets will boost China's tourism

Hong Kong (CNN) -- Public toilets in China's capital are coming under new rules, including "no more than two flies allowed."

Other rules for Beijing's public toilet sanitation and staff include waste collection every half hour and bilingual instructions in English and Chinese, according to state-run China Daily.

The new standards, announced Monday by the Beijing Municipal Commission of City Administration and Environment, cover public toilets in parks, tourist areas and hotels, bus stops, train stations, airports, hospitals, shopping malls and supermarkets.

Jack Sim, founder of the World Toilet Organization (WTO) and whose work has earned him the nickname "Mr. Toilet," suggested a "No Fly Zone" would be better.

"If there is one fly, it simply means there are other flies," said Sim, adding that the disease-carriers "breed very fast."

His Singapore-based WTO, which aims to improve sanitation conditions and toilets around the world, held its last annual summit in November in China's Hainan province.

The problem of sanitation is a worldwide one, with some 2.6 billion people -- or half the developing world's population -- without access to improved sanitation, according to the United Nations, which recognizes it as a human right. Halving that number is one of the United Nations' eight Millennium Development Goals for the world to achieve by 2015.

World Toilet Organization founder Jack Sim, pictured in 2007, says poor sanitation can be deadly.
World Toilet Organization founder Jack Sim, pictured in 2007, says poor sanitation can be deadly.

China's toilet problem -- notorious for a pungent smell -- has hindered tourism growth, Sim said, one of the reasons the Beijing Tourism Administration hosted the World Toilet Summit in 2004 and Hainan, a popular tourist destination, was China's choice for the last gathering.

If there is one fly, it simply means there are other flies
Jack Sim, founder of the World Toilet Organization

"A lot of places in China are rare, so beautiful, but tourism agents cannot get people there because there are no proper toilet facilities," Sim said, adding that he's met people who smoke in public toilets just to avoid the smell.

The WTO worked with Beijing to set toilet standards before the 2008 Olympics, a "coming-of-age" event for China, Sim said, adding that China's National Tourism Administration now wants the WTO's World Toilet College involved in training professional cleaners.

According to China Daily, Beijing invested 400 million yuan ($57 million) on public toilets in the four years leading up to the Olympics.

"The toilet cleaner has been treated as an unskilled person but should be treated as a tradesman, a technician," Sim said, pointing to the critical need for cleaning public toilets to prevent outbreaks of contagious diseases and viruses like the H1N1 strain of influenza. Proper ventilation was also key, he added.

"If we don't clean toilets, we pay a lot more," Sim said.

Officials at the China National Tourism Administration and the Beijing Commission of City Administration and Environment could not be immediately reached.

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