Tibet gains traction with tourism boom

2020-01-11 09:00:12Xinhua Editor : Mo Hong'e ECNS App Download
A tourist poses on Barkhor Street, a circular road with numerous shops, which winds around Jokhang Monastery in Lhasa, Tibet autonomous region last summer. (Photo: Xinhua Sun Fei)

A tourist poses on Barkhor Street, a circular road with numerous shops, which winds around Jokhang Monastery in Lhasa, Tibet autonomous region last summer. (Photo: Xinhua Sun Fei)

The Tibet autonomous region plans to expand its tourism income stream this year from the current mainstay-entry tickets at major attractions-to an integrated, year-round industrial chain that includes restaurants, hotels, transportation, entertainment and the arts, the regional government said in a work report released on Tuesday.

The report, presented at the ongoing third session of the 11th Tibet People's Congress, said the region received more than 40 million tourists last year, up 19 percent year-on-year, with revenues rising to 56 billion yuan ($7.9 billion).

The region aims to attract 47 million tourists and increase revenues to more than 60 billion yuan this year, according to Qizhala, chairman of the regional government, in his work report to the legislature.

"In 2019, we will continue the work of building Tibet into an important world tourism destination and promote our brand, The World's Third Pole," Qizhala said.

"Last year, the region linked nearly all its villages to 4G networks with fiber-optic cables and broadband internet services."

Tourism's role as a leading industry in the region is important, with an industry chain enriched by the soul of local culture having formed in recent years, he said.

Many of the region's residents rely on tourism for their livelihoods, and their quality of life has improved.

According to the work report, more than 400,000 rural residents worked in Tibet's tourism industry last year. Around 16,000 of those had jobs in the cultural entertainment sector, with an average annual income of 17,000 yuan.

Karma Chodrak, a resident of Ruba, a village in the region's Nyemo county, said tourism contributed to his business as a woodblock craftsmen.

"Traditionally, the orders I receive are for Tibetan scripture woodblocks or Buddha images from monasteries or Tibetan Buddhists. But more tourists have been coming to me in recent years, thanks to the promotion of the entire region as a tourism destination," Karma said.

He added that some tourists like to collect Tibetan cultural woodblocks for their homes.

"The woodblock craft is an endangered heritage today," he said. "Only a few people practice it. However, with more tourists I believe it will revive."

Zhang Feng, general manager of Tibet Pengxiang Tourism Agency, said the region's policies have been helping to attract more tourists to Tibet in the winter.

"Before 2008, winter was a slow season. But now, thanks to various discounts for winter visitors, we no longer have to shut our doors," Zhang said.

For the region's final winter tourism campaign period this year, ending in mid-March, 55 sites are offering discounts.

Liu Qimei, a tourist from Shanxi province who is touring Tibet with her family last week, said she appreciated the winter discounts.

"It's a pleasant journey, and we were exempted from buying tickets to the Potala Palace, Jokhang Monastery and other sites," Liu said.

"The Tibetan people are friendly and the winter sunshine is warm. Apart from that, the air is a bit dry for us."


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