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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Tibet tourism suffers from March unrest: state media

August 18, 2008

August 17, 2008

BEIJING -- The number of tourists visiting Tibet in the first half of
the year fell 70 percent from the previous year, state media reported
Saturday, following unrest in the Himalayan region in March.

More than 340,000 travellers went to Tibet between January and June
this year, the official Tibet Daily newspaper said, a dramatic drop
from the same period in 2007 when over 1.1 million people visited,
according to official statistics.

Beijing barred all tourists from going to Tibet after a massive
crackdown on violence that erupted in Lhasa on March 14 against
Chinese rule, and then spread to other areas of western China with
Tibetan populations.

Chinese tour groups were allowed back in at the end of April, and
visitors from Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan were subsequently given the
green light to go early May.

Foreign visitors, however, were only allowed back in at the end of June.

The head of the regional tourism administration, Wang Songping, had
predicted confidently early this year that visitors to Tibet would
hit five million in 2008.

But the March riots and the subsequent government clampdown, in which
exiled Tibetan leaders say 203 people died, and China has accused
"rioters" of being responsible for 21 deaths, put a stop to that.

In March, the number of tourists dropped nearly 49 percent compared
to the same time last year to 14,200, the Tibet Daily said, citing
Deng Xiaogang, vice chairman of Tibet.

"The March 14 incident had the biggest impact on the service sector
in Tibet, and the tourism industry was significantly impacted," Deng
said, according to the report.

But tourism was now improving, and 370,000 travellers went to Tibet
in July alone, more than in the whole of the first half of the year,
the newspaper said.
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