CHINA / Regional

Peking University bans campus tourism
(China Daily)
Updated: 2006-07-25 06:45

Peking University, widely reputed to be one of China's most prestigious educational institutions, attracts more than its fair share of gawkers.

Tourists take a picture inside the campus of Peking University on July 15, 2006. [Xinhua] 
It is common to see busloads of parents and grandparents showing children, even toddlers, around the campus perhaps hoping that they would one day be lucky enough to enroll in the elite university.

But the university has had enough of being a tourist attraction it has banned all tour groups from the campus.

The exceptions are individual visitors and groups of high school students organized by educational institutions as long as they secure permission from the university's security department three days in advance.

According to a notice posted on the university's website over the weekend, the move is intended to maintain order on campus.

Predictably, the decision has generated heated debate. While tourists feel aggrieved, students in the university applauded the ban.

Peking University, along with Tsinghua University, another top institution in the country, has become a must-see in tour packages, especially for parents who want their children to excel.

Tsinghua University has not announced any ban on campus tourism.

Many tourist agencies around the country provide such packages; and the universities do not charge for the tours. Consequently, Peking University's western gate and the street in front are always crowded with photo-snapping tourists to the point of traffic snarls. Inside the campus are vendors peddling T-shirts, drinks and souvenirs to tourists.

"Going through the west gate once, I thought I had walked into a farmers' market," a Peking University student posted on BBS.

Students also complained about the noise with some tourists talking loudly near classrooms.

"Peking University should not become a tourist destination," said Tang Jun, a researcher with the Sociology Institute under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Universities should be open to the public, but they can refuse groups organized by tour agencies, Beijing Morning Post quoted Tang as saying.

However, many tourists are dismayed.

"How could Peking University do this? Isn't the university built by the country and with taxpayers' money? I think it is also very meaningful for primary school students to visit the campus," said a man surnamed Cui from Southwest China's Sichuan Province.

Gu Haibing, a professor at Renmin University of China, also opposed the ban.

"Peking University is the university of all Chinese people It might want to close its campus to tour groups because it does not want to pay for the security," he was quoted as saying by Beijing Morning Post.

China Daily

(China Daily 07/25/2006 page1)