Tibet to open up for tourists from abroad

Potala palace

Tibet, which is experiencing a tourist boom, plans to open up to the outside world to attract more visitors from aboard this summer, a top official from the remote Himalayan region said today.

The region will open up further to the outside world and attract more visitors from aboard this summer, Padma Choling, chairman of the Tibet region legislature said.

In 2012, Tibet attracted 10.58 million visitors, an increase of 21.7 per cent year-on-year, generating 12.64 billion yuan (USD two billion) revenue, state-run China Daily said.

The vast majority of the tourists, however, are Chinese from mainland.

Tibetan authorities expect the tourism industry's contribution to local GDP to climb to 20 per cent by the end of 2015, with the number of overseas tourists expected to account for more than 10 per cent of the total, generating more than 15 per cent of revenue.

But, Choling said the opening-up should abide by State foreign policies first and "fit the local situation" as Tibet is a border area.

"The prerequisite of opening-up is to upgrade service facilities and service capabilities to match the requirements. And we have to protect national territory at the borders," he told the daily.

Tibet has a host of tourist attractions, including the highest peak Mt Everest called Qomolangma, the Brahmaputra Grand Canyon; and the Potala Palace, the home of Dalai Lamas.

While the Himalayan region is mostly open to Chinese tourists, foreigners must apply for entry permits.

In 2010, the central government proposed making the region a major global tourism destination, and from January to November last year, it received more than1 90,000 overseas tourists, the local tourism bureau said.

"The (Tibet) autonomous region has to further open up to ensure the tourism industry develops in the right direction," Choling said.

"Tourism will further open up to the world from this summer," he said adding that summer will be the starting point, as conditions in winter are harsh.

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