Tibet expecting increase in tourism

The government of Tibet is expecting an increase in the number of tourists to the country this year.

It is expected that about 10 million tourists will visit the mountain state this year according to a local tourism official, and tourism is expected to bring CNY12bn into the country.

Tourism activity in Tibet has been on the increase over the years as the government has increased its focus on welcoming visitors from beyond its borders. Yu Yungui, head of the Communist Party committee of the region’s tourism bureau, said that more than seven million tourists had visited Tibet from January to August, an increase of 25 percent year-on-year.

Yu said that tourist revenues in Tibet were increasing because of various programmes implemented by the government, which included new activities and services for clients. Tibet’s main attraction has been its cultural tourism and travellers visit the country to learn about Buddhism and its cultural elements. In addition, its rugged mountains and scenic beauty have been great attractions for tourists from far and wide. The Tibetan administration has been promoting the tourist potential of the region using large-scale advertising and through various festivals, including the Tibetan New Year.

Tibet is located on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau and it is mostly populated by ethnic Tibetans. Some of its most famous tourist destinations include the world’s highest peak Mount Qomolangma (Mount Everest), the sacred lake Nam Co, and Tibetan Buddhism heritage sites including the Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple and Zhaxi Lhunbo Monastery.

About 300,000 people are involved in the tourism sector in the region.

China to Invest In Tibetan Tourism

China’s state media has announced a $4.8bn tourism project to be centred on Lhasa, Tibet’s capital city.

The massive investment, which is intended to draw more visitors to the region, will include a theme park, a commercial district and a residential area, according to quotes attributed to Lhasa vice-mayor, Ma Xinming, by the official Xinhua news agency.

According to Xinhua, Ma said the project would create a ‘living museum’ for Tibetan culture as well as relieving pressure on tourist attractions in Lhasa’s old city and developing Tibet’s tourism industry.

The first phase of the project, a mile or so from downtown Lhasa, will reportedly take three to five years to complete.

The planned theme park is to be based on princess Wencheng, a Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD) royal who married a Tibetan ruler. It is thought that the Chinese authorities are using the theme to help emphasise the close historic ties between China and Tibet at a time when dissent over Chinese rule is rife in the country.

Tibetans feel that their religious freedom has been curbed and that Tibetan culture is under threat from a growing influx of Han Chinese. Such is the level of animosity over Chinese rule that on May 27 this year, two Tibetans protested by setting themselves on fire in front of the Jokhang Temple, a major Buddhist pilgrimage centre. State media refuted claims that China closed Tibet to travellers following the incident.

China counters the protestors’ claims, saying that Tibetans do have religious freedom and that living standards have improved in the country, thanks to China’s economic expansion, and that another feature of the new development will be a centre dedicated to Tibetan art and customs.

According to official figures, tourism to Tibet was up by 24 percent in 2011, from the previous year, with a total of 8.5 million visitors. The regional government’s target for this year is 10 million visitors.