Graffiti is left on a tiled wall in Kuanzhai Lane in Chengdu City, the capital of Southwest China's Sichuan Province, June 17, 2017. The lane, a famous cultural site that comes under protection, has borne witness to the city's history. Unfortunately, the lane's iconic wall made of tiles has been covered with graffiti.
A recurring habit of scrawling characters on any surface, from jars in the Palace Museum in Beijing to a 3,500-year-old Egyptian temple, has carved out a bad reputation for Chinese holidaymakers and left a long-lasting stain on their standing abroad and at home.
Angry managers of tourist sites nationwide and embarrassed authorities have been relentlessly trying to engrave good manners into sightseers, relying on incentives at times, and at other times punishment. However, the administration of an attraction in southwest China's Sichuan Province has decided to try a different strategy.
The management of Kuan Alley and Zhai Alley, two old-style lanes in the provincial capital Chengdu, has come up with an unconventional way to handle the sketches left by visitors looking to keep their stamps on a replica of an ancient wall.
The three-meter-high wall, which stretches for about 100 meters, imitates an old design with the characteristic of the city's traditional architecture. However, while attracting flocks of tourists, the wall is also a magnet for graffiti.
The grey-tiled structure has been turned into a "writing board," bearing witness to visitors' personal signatures, love confessions and good wishes throughout the years.
Removing the marks has been futile despite the multitude of methods used to bring back the wall to its original state, Chengdu Shangbao, a local newspaper, reported.
However, the site's management also admitted that the tendency of some visitors to leave their trace may not be completely unfounded.
One manager, surnamed Cui, told the newspaper that his team would proceed with the cleaning plan but would also "respect tourists' need" by leaving "some lines of good wishes" intact on the wall, marking a shift from the traditional practice of discouraging the behavior.
Comments made by tourists interviewed by local media and remarks left on Chinese social media adopted a critical tone of carving on the wall. But some called for the wall to be preserved for tourists to express themselves, arguing that the structure is not valuable and the calligraphy it features has become an attraction in its own right.
"If (the wall) is not original, it has actually developed an aesthetic of its own," a tourist told the newspaper.
Chinese authorities have been tightening rules on tourists' misconducts, with violators facing a blacklist and ban from entering tourist sites.