Ever since filmmaker Zhang Yimou directed a spectacular light show in 2008 to open the Beijing summer Olympics, Chinese cities have been gripped by a craze for staging large-scale light extravaganzas.
The light shows held across China have led to what travel industry players call nighttime tourism, with visitors flocking to brightly lit historical landmarks and harbours lined with glowing skyscrapers.
When the Forbidden City in Beijing staged a light show for the first time, enveloping it in thick, multicoloured beams of light, tickets for the February show sold like hot cakes. The garish performance, however, attracted public criticism for being tacky and damaging its regal ambience.
The market for illuminated scenic spots in China reached 68 billion yuan (US$9.88 billion) in 2017, with the value of the market estimated to rise to 100 billion in 2020, according to Gaogong Industry Research Institute.
However, residents and urban light planners say China is suffering from unprecedented light pollution caused by the blind pursuit of tourist dollars.
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