Tibet tourism recovering after last year’s riots

/ Source: The Associated Press

Tibet's battered tourism industry is gradually recovering from last year's deadly riots, prompting authorities to phase out discount prices aimed at boosting visitor numbers, state media reported Wednesday.

Tourism in the Himalayan region took a major hit from the March 2008 riots, in which Tibetans attacked Chinese migrants and torched much of Lhasa's commercial district, leaving 22 people dead by China's account.

Travel bans and a harsh government crackdown on Buddhist monasteries sent tourism plummeting, with arrivals in the first half of last year falling nearly 70 percent. Tibet was only fully reopened to foreign tourists on April 5.

Seeking to pull out of the slump, Tibet's tourism administration in October urged travel agencies, tourist spots, hotels and transportation authorities to halve their prices, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

With visitor numbers back up, regional tourism administration vice director Wang Songping said discounted tickets for major tourist sites would gradually be removed in anticipation of more arrivals during the peak summer travel period, Xinhua said.

Tourist arrivals in the past six months rose 12 percent to 430,000 from the same period in the previous year, Xinhua said, comprising 406,000 domestic visitors and 24,000 from abroad.

Admission to the Jokhang temple, Tibet's holiest Buddhist temple, is now 80 yuan ($12), up from a discounted 35 yuan ($5), Xinhua said.