Tourists feed birds at Erhai Lake in Dali.
Hundreds of restaurants and guesthouses around a well-known lake in Yunnan province have suspended business for the construction of a project to protect the ecological environment.
Most venues close to Erhai Lake, a popular tourism spot in Yunnan's Dali Bai autonomous prefecture, posted notices about the suspension of their services, after the prefectural government announced on March 31 that a pollutant-interception project would be constructed, according to a China Daily reporter who visited the area.
The decision to suspend businesses was made as the rapid development of the local economy, including the development of its tourism industry - which has brought large numbers of tourists to the lakeside - has imposed great pressure on the environmental carrying capacity. Local authorities said measures must be taken to curb the exacerbation of the issue.
The project was initially due to be completed in December 2018, but the first stage of the project is now expected to be finished ahead of schedule and come into service by the end of the year, with a sewage processing capacity of 5,000 cubic meters a day, authorities said.
Many business owners around the lake expressed their understanding of the policy, saying that a clean and beautiful Erhai Lake will guarantee the prosperity of Dali and of their own lives.
However, they also said they face practical problems, such as how to make a living during the suspension.
A local resident and founder of a guesthouse close to the lake, surnamed Zhao, started his venture after he graduated from college in 2014.
He said that many tourists had booked stays at his guesthouse before the policy was issued, so he now has to contact the 189 bookings to explain to them one by one that they have to cancel their stay because of the suspension.
The owner of another guesthouse near the lake, surnamed Shi, said he didn't know what to do apart from wait to see what happens.
"Numerous people running a business like mine have lost their sources of income. Some had borrowed money to start their businesses and now have to worry about paying debts without having an income," he said.
Zhang Yong, deputy Party chief of Dali, said the prefecture is drafting a series of regulations on running guesthouses near the lake, with possible clauses such as valid licenses being required, and guesthouses having their own sewage treatment facilities and meeting discharging standards set by environmental authorities.
The regulations are expected to be released before the construction of the project is completed, Zhang said.