City seeks opinions to better accommodate park campers
Opinions are being sought on a draft guideline regulating camping sites in the city amid a spring camping craze that has led to management woes at many parks.
The draft guideline released by the city's culture and tourism authorities encourages the establishment of camping sites at tourist attractions, resorts, rural villages, country parks and theme parks, while stresses licensing, management duty, mechanisms that boost the healthy and orderly development of camping sites, as well as health and safety requirements.
It also calls on the public to follow civilized, eco-friendly and safe camping habits, restrict noise and clear and sort trash.
Operators and management agencies of camping sites should stop tourists from making noise that affects the lives of nearby residents, according to the draft guideline.
It also covers the selection of camping site locations, operation, safety management and environmental protection.
The city has 53 parks that allow visitors to pitch tents, according to the Shanghai Greenery and Public Sanitation Bureau.
On sunny weekends, the lawns at some parks are completely occupied by tents, and some areas of the lawns are already bare.
"The surge of campers has triggered a lot of problems," said Deng Jianping, director of the bureau, in a recent radio program. "The lawns have withered due to overuse, leading to maintenance woes.
"Moreover, some tourists did not obey regulations and brought portable gas stoves into parks.
"The ropes used to fix the tents exposed potential safety hazards as children and seniors stumbled over them, and a lot of trash was left on the ground after the campers left, leading to extra cleaning work," Deng added.
The craze has also resulted in quarrels and littering, as well as damage to the environment.
According to park operators, it has resulted in significant additional maintenance costs.
Due to the pleasant spring weather recently, Gongqing Forest Park in Yangpu District, a popular camping site in the city, had experienced between 50,000 and 60,000 visitors per day over the weekends.
The park operator said that good camping spaces were fully secured in the morning, and that some parts of the lawns were bare due to being trampled.
The same problem was seen at Century Park, where visitors set up their tents under plum blossom trees.
Guyi Garden, a 500-year-old Jiangnan-style classic garden in Jiading District, said some visitors ignored bans to set up tents on its lawns.
"The garden is historical, and some of the trees are old, so camping is not permitted," a worker named Sun explained. "We also prohibit visitors from stepping onto lawns because they are only for aesthetic purposes."
Zhou Weihong, a deputy to the Shanghai People's Congress and deputy general manager of Shanghai Spring Tour said: "Camping tours are gaining popularity among residents, particularly with the pleasant weather and blossoming floral landscape. As a result, camping tourist products in Shanghai's rural areas are mushrooming.
"It is suggested that park operators allocate certain areas for campers and provide more clear and detailed regulations on the management of camping sites and behavior of campers."
Some parks are trying new methods to minimize the impact of the camping craze.
Pujiang Country Park in Minhang District has paved a 500-meter-long artificial lawn under a bridge that is free to campers and can accommodate up to 200 tents.
"We only need to clear the lawn on a regular basis, and the maintenance cost is much lower," a staffer explained.
During this year's cherry blossom season, Chenshan Botanical Garden in Songjiang District also introduced 50 tents managed by a third party with catering and performance services.
The fee is used for the maintenance of lawns.