Millions of tourists visit the Great Wall of China annually, eager to trek the steep walkways that originate from the 7th century BC. The surrounding areas near popular portions of the wall naturally offer gift shops, chair lifts, and tourist bus parking lots, but the Chinese government has recently focused on another result of high tourism—graffiti.
While graffiti has been an issue on the Great Wall for decades now, China is tentatively trying a simple remedy: applying a sheet of plastic over parts of the wall so tourists can still scribble their markings. The concept sounds almost as if it is providing something along the lines of a clear laminated sheet which will allow graffiti to a certain extent. So far this initiative is in effect at the Mutianyu area of the wall, located approximately 70 km northeast of Beijing and boasts one of the best preserved sections to date.
My worry is that most graffiti exists with the intent of a certain degree of permanence, so we can probably expect some tourists to ignore this idea and continue etching their identities on the actual wall.
Graffiti on ancient objects is also an issue all over the world—just last year, a Chinese teenager defaced an ancient Egyptian artifact at Luxor Temple. While the family apologized to the Egyptian people upon discovering this, vandalism on antiquities remains an ongoing problem that has made relatively little progress.