The state of a country’s public toilets is an indicator of how civilised that nation is, according to Armenia’s prime minister.
And in a bid to boost tourism he has proposed to shut down those commercial facilities deemed to have unsuitable toilets.
The lack of clean and proper public facilities is considered to be a major issue facing Armenia’s tourism industry. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has made the development of the tourism sector one of its chief priorities.
“You see gilded chairs in a five-storey restaurant and then when you open the door to the toilet, it seems as though you are in a disaster zone,” he said. “It is unacceptable to build a restaurant for half a million dollars and then to be shy about spending an extra 200-300 dollars on essential sanitary conditions.
“It is necessary to ban, close and bankrupt all those businessmen who put gold-plated chairs in their restaurants yet have broken and dirty toilets.”
The state of the nation’s lavatories goes beyond a simple question of sanitation, according to Pashinyan. “It is not only a matter of hygiene and cleanliness, but an indicator of how ‘civilised’ a country is,” he said.
According to Lonely Planet, public toilets are uncommon in Armenia and are rarely equipped with toilet paper. Most are squat toilets and many are located outside – even those at basic guesthouses.
Many Armenian schools are also equipped with outdoor facilities, according to a recent study by physicians and an NGO. The study revealed that 41 per cent of rural schools are only provided with squat toilets, many of which offer no privacy due to an absence of partitions.