A row has broken out in China over a plan to revive a custom for naked men to haul boats through a tourist beauty spot.
Political adviser Yao Benzhi suggested the move to restore local culture and boost tourism in the Shennongxi Stream Gorge in Hubei province.
Yao even volunteered to be the first naked boatman – but he has been criticised for seeking economic growth at the cost of the boatmen’s dignity.
People came from far and wide to see the naked boatmen until they were ordered to cover up in the year 2000 to avoid offending women and children.
But the number of visitors has actually fallen sharply since the estimated 1,000 boatmen were told to start wearing pants.
Liu Zhong, of the local Jiangshan Travel Agency said: “Many tourists come here to see the naked boat trackers and they are disappointed to see them dressed.”
However, Xu Peng, vice director of the Badong Tourism Bureau, said it was unlikely the tradition would be restored.
“We used to received many complaints from young ladies and parents that the naked boatmen were not good for them or their kids to see,” he said.
Retired boatman Zhang Houbiao, 60, said the tradition for barges to be hauled by naked boat trackers went back hundreds of years.
“It was a tradition to work naked, as our clothes were made of coarse fabric that chaffed in the water,” he explained. – Ananova.com