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Tibet cuts fares, hotel rates to lure winter sightseers, revive tourism

December 24, 2008

  LHASA, Dec. 23, 2008 (Xinhua) -- Tibet's tourism market, battered by riots here in March, has cut travel and hotel costs in hopes of luring domestic and international sightseers.
    The tourism bureau is promoting a winter tour package, deputy chief Wang Songping said on Tuesday. "Most of the tourist attractions, airline companies, hotels and travel services joined the promotion and offered discounts."
    Tourist destinations in Nyingchi Prefecture, which borders India and Myanmar, have cut prices by half, while those in the regional capital Lhasa and in Xigaze Prefecture began to lower prices by 20 to 50 percent in late October, Wang said.
    Many hotels in Lhasa have taken 20 to 70 percent off their room rates, while air tickets from Beijing to Lhasa are now available at 70 percent or 80 percent of the original fare.
    The tourism bureau has promoted tours in major Chinese cities including Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, the island province of Taiwan as well as the United States, Canada and Australia, said Wang.
    Lhasa Tourism Corp. has invited a delegation of travel managers from Shenzhen to visit Tibet before the end of this year. "If they're happy with the tour, they will hopefully bring tourists from south China to spend the traditional Chinese New Year holiday in Tibet," said general manager Xu Jianmin.
    Nyingchi Prefecture, home to the Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon, was the first Tibetan region to see a rise in tourist numbers this year, with 24,000 Chinese and foreign sightseers last month, up 4.8 percent year-on-year, Tibet's tourism bureau said in a press release on Tuesday.
    It said the regional capital Lhasa received 10,500 visitors last month, down 4.62 percent year-on-year.
    Travel agencies in Tibet halted business for safety reasons after the riot of March 14, which erupted in downtown Lhasa and left seven schools, five hospitals and 120 homes torched and 908 shops looted. Eighteen civilians and one police officer were killed in the violence and more than 600 were injured.
    Tibet's tourism market reopened to domestic travelers in late April and to overseas sightseers on June 25.
    The riot was a body blow to the tourism industry, which saw a 69-percent slump in the number of tourists and a 72-percent slump in revenue in the first half of this year.
    Tibet has received about 2.2 million tourists so far this year, sharply down from a record 4 million last year.
    The figure for next year is estimated at about 3 million, the regional government said at a meeting last week.
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