The Xuhui District Tourism Bureau has limited the number of people who can visit Xujiahui Origin each day after crowds overran the free historical site in the first five days after it opened, a bureau official said Monday.
The bureau decided Sunday to limit the number of admission tickets that it gives away each day to 2,000 in an effort to protect the buildings at the site, some of which are centuries old, said Xu Lingzhi, section chief of the bureau's tourism promotion department.
"The excessive carbon dioxide from the crowds could harm the books in the library, and the camera flashes could cause the paintings in the cathedral to fade," she told the Global Times.
The historical site's tourism center has handed out more than 12,600 of the free admission tickets since the site opened on October 30, including 7,000 on Saturday, said Gao Zijun, the center's director.
Xujiahui Origin, which sits on 2.4 square kilometers of land near the Xujiahui metro station, is home to several buildings of historical interest, including the Xujiahui Cathedral, the Xujiahui Observatory and the Xujiahui Bibliotheca, said Gao.
The site was the former home of Xu Guangqi, the Chinese scholar, scientist and mathematician of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). The National Tourism Administration designated the site an AAAA national scenic spot in October.
The site's tourism center has received complaints from members of the cathedral, who said the noise from the visitors interfered with their prayers, said Pan Yihong, a staff member at the center.
Before the historical site opened to the public, the cathedral had only allowed members of the church to enter. The cathedral's doorkeeper told the Global Times that 2,000 to 3,000 tourists visited the building each day over the weekend, and there were only two to four volunteers at any given time to keep order.
"We welcome these tourists, but we wish they could be more considerate," a church member surnamed Wang said.
Pan said 95 percent of the tourists were local senior citizens who may have mistakenly thought the admission tickets were only free for a limited time.
"The site will always be free, so we are urging people to come later so they can have a better experience," he told the Global Times.
Xu said the tourism bureau plans to recruit more volunteers from schools and residential communities to help mind the site.