Tibet is planning to draw more international visitors in the coming years, a local official has said.
Reported by Chinese state media, the chairman of the region’s legislature, Padma Choling, said Tibet would open up to non-Chinese visitors from this summer onwards.
“The [Tibet] autonomous region has to further open up to ensure the tourism industry develops in the right direction,” Choling told the China Daily newspaper in an interview during the 12th National People’s Congress in Beijing. “Tourism will further open up to the world from this summer.”
According to official figures, Tibet received approximately 190,000 international visitors in 2012. The region’s tourism potential is often stifled however, by restrictions put in place by the Chinese government. All international visitors to the region need special permits, and in recent years the region has been effectively closed to inbound arrivals for several months of the year, including peak travel months. And Choling indicated that tourism to the region would continue to be affected by government policies, saying that travel would only be promoted when it “fits the local situation”.
Travel to Tibet among Chinese tourists has experience strong growth in recent years. In 2012, the region attracted an estimated 10.6 million visitors, up 21.7% year-on-year, generating CNY12.6 billion (US$2bn) in revenues.