Beginning of this month (April 2017), the government of Dali Prefecture decided to temporarily close down almost 2000 guesthouses, restaurants and bars bordering directly the lakeside of Er'hai Lake. The reason: environmental issues, waste water pollution and the protection of the lake. Every facility without a legal registration not meeting the new environmental requirements, especially those of the sewage disposal system, are from now on not allowed to operate anymore until the issues are solved.
According to a government report, this is necessary as recently the lake's water quality level downgraded dramatically. To recover the ecosystem of Er'hai Lake - for many visitors the reason to come to the area - shall start immediately and has now become a high-priority task. Currently, a new waste water treatment system is built all around the lake and will be put into operation in June 2018. This will then also be the earliest date, mentioned commercial facilities may open their doors for tourists again.
Dali and Er'hai Lake have been promoted as one of the best Chinese tourist destinations since years. Numbers of visitors increased accordingly and blockbuster movies like Xinhua Lufang (心花路放), highlighting Dali's beauty, contributed to the popularity. People from all over China (especially from pollutied cities like Beijing, Shanghai or Guangzhou) not only come for a visit but also moved to the area in order to up their businesses. Consequently, the hospitality industry in Dali boomed with all its good and bad side effects.
"People come to Dali for the beautiful scenery and the peaceful environment. If our Erhai Lake becomes dirty and messed up, no matter how great the services are we provide, it would be all for nothing" said a manager of a Dali lakeside hotel, who is luckily not affected by the close-down.
We think that these measures are good and support sustainable tourism in Yunnan but could have started way earlier to mitigate the impact on the people having invested a lot of time and money. If you should have any booking problems due to these measures, please let us know and we can see what we can do for you!