China to boost tourism in Tibet

Updated: 2012-08-30 18:03


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LHASA -- China's top tourism official on Thursday pledged special support to boost tourism in Tibet and make it a "pillar industry" for the plateau region.

The National Tourism Administration has decided to issue special policies for Tibet to help it develop infrastructure, attract investment and visitors, improve services and develop key tourist destinations, said Shao Qiwei, head of the administration.

"Tibet has abundant tourism resources, many of which are so unique and appealing to both domestic and foreign visitors," Shao said at a tourism workshop held in Lhasa, capital of Tibet autonomous region. "The prospect for development is huge."

Shao said developing tourism can also significantly increase the income of rural Tibetans. The sector will bring viability to Tibet's economy as well, he said.

Tibet is situated at the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau with predominant ethnic Tibetans and a prevailing Buddhist culture. Signature tourist destinations include the world's highest peak Mount Qomolangma, the sacred lake Nam Co, Tibetan Buddhism heritages like the Potala Palace, the Jokhang Temple, and the Zhaxi Lhunbo Monastery.

The number of tourists travelling to Tibet has been growing by an average 30 percent annually in the past five years. Last year, more than 8.69 million people visited Tibet, bringing in a tourism revenue of 9.7 billion yuan ($1.53 billion), according to government figures. Authorities aim to double the tourist visitor number by 2015.