A Popular Tourist Destination Just Added… Toilet Timers (No, We’re Not Kidding)

There are a lot of things popular tourist destinations have to do to manage the number of visitors they see each day.

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For many sites, including Disney parks, this includes things like continuously building new attractions, making sure existing ones are staying updated and relevant, making sure there are enough dining locations and seating areas to accommodate guests, and especially, making sure there are plenty of bathrooms to go around. Well, one popular tourist destination has just done something controversial with their bathrooms — they’ve added timers.

Yungang Buddhist Grottoes in China is a wondrous spectacle, featuring 51,000 statues carved into 252 caves and niches that are around 1,500 years old. Its incredible sights make it a massively popular tourist attraction that continues to grow. They just had their highest attendance ever in 2023 at 3 million visitors, which means that some changes are to make sure the site is ready for that many guests, according to CNN.

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In recent years, the site has added new shows and mini attractions inside the area to boost appeal (and it’s seemed to work very well), but now they’ve added something we’ve never seen before and don’t know how we feel about — toilet timers. 

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Yes, since May 1st, there are digital timers above each stall in the women’s restroom that count how long the guest has been in there in minutes and seconds. If the stall is free, it says the word “EMPTY” in green. The visitor who originally took the video and sent it into a local newspaper, the Xiaoxiang Morning Herald, said that they “found it quite advanced technologically so you don’t have to queue outside or knock on a bathroom door” but that they also “found it a little bit embarrassing. It felt like I was being monitored.”

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A staff member at the attraction told the Xiaoxiang Morning Herald that the timers were installed to help cope with the increase in visitors, and assured readers that no one is going to be kicked out of the bathroom at any time. There is no time limit on the bathrooms, and no one is controlling how long you’re in a stall for. They also were quoted saying the timers are a safety measure, “ensuring the well-being of all guests, in case some guests use the toilet for an extended period and an emergency occurs.”

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The change has been met with differing opinions, some saying they think it’ll discourage visitors from sitting in a stall and scrolling on their phones, while others have asked why the attraction doesn’t just spend money to build more washrooms.

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