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2018-07-06 11:37:55

Universities in China are more than just academic institutions — they’re also attractive tourist sites.

As the peak summer travel season approaches, two of the country’s elite schools have introduced an online reservation system to cap the number of daily visitors, The Beijing News reported Friday. Peking University and Tsinghua University say the latest measure aims to ease the burden of playing host to the growing crowds of tourists on their campuses.

“There used to be long lines when people visited Peking University,” Xing Jinsong, deputy head of the school’s security department, told The Beijing News. “With online reservations, campus administration and visitors can better arrange their visits in a reasonable way.”

Campus tourism has long been a tradition for many Chinese. Large numbers of tourists visit university campuses — some of them hundreds of years old — either for their scenic beauty or the historic and culturally rich buildings. Summer is also the peak time for Chinese parents to tour campuses with their children, hoping to inspire them to earn a spot at a prestigious university.

Beijing-based Peking and Tsinghua — considered China’s Ivy League schools — have set up an online reservation system via mini-programs on social app WeChat for visits between mid-July and mid-August. Earlier this year, Wuhan University in central China’s Hubei province also asked tourists to book online and allowed only 15,000 visitors to view campus cherry blossoms per weekday. Under the new policy, Peking University will only allow 6,000 individual visitors every day and will cap groups at 3,000 people, while Tsinghua has set a maximum number of 8,000 daily visitors.

Last summer, an estimated 430,000 people toured the two universities, resulting in long lines at the entrances and overcrowded facilities. The rise in campus tourism has led university officials to introduce various crowd control measures in recent years: Tsinghua University restricted outside visitors on weekdays starting in June 2010, and last year, Peking University limited daily visitors to 5,000.

But while the schools have succeeded in streamlining visitation, scalpers and unlicensed tour guides have become a headache for university officials. In 2016, the Beijing Morning Post found several people selling former Peking University students’ ID cards for as little as 30 yuan ($4.50) to tourists hoping to enter the campus. And last year, police detained a man for 14 days for sneaking in tourists to Tsinghua by issuing counterfeit university documents.

Editor: Bibek Bhandari.

(Header image: Children visit Tsinghua University during the summer holiday in Beijing, Aug. 1, 2016. Fa Caige/VCG)