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Development

China Plans to Make Tibet a Top Tourist Draw

[WTN-L World Tibet Network News. Published by The Canada Tibet Committee. Issue ID: 05/03/03; March 3, 2005.]

BEIJING, March 3, 2005 (AFP) -- China is planning to promote tourism to Tibet, unveiling an ambitious 15-year plan to make it one of the world's leading tourist destinations, state media said.

The Tibet tourism development plan, covering 2005 to 2020, aims to vigorously promote the "the roof of the world" to boost the local economy and kick start the region's "urbanisation", Xinhua news agency said.

According to the plan, Tibet will attract 2.48 million domestic and foreign visitors by 2010, generating four billion yuan (483 million dollars) in revenue, or 10 percent of its local economy.

By 2020, 10.17 million visitors are expected, with revenues soaring to 22.8 billion yuan, accounting for 18 percent of the local gross domestic product.

Currently, Tibet attracts just over one million tourists a year, most of them Chinese.

"Tibet will focus on developing inbound tourism and domestic tourism in order to establish it as an important tourism center between China and Asia as well as a world famous high plateau tourism destination," said Xinhua.

Tourism has emerged as increasingly important industry in Tibet, helping raise incomes for the area's often destitute population.

Losang Jamcan, vice chairman of Tibet Autonomous Region, said tourism would also "promote urbanisation and infrastructure construction", as well as helping the impoverished area protect its cultural heritage and environment.

China brought Tibet under its control in 1951, exiling Tibet's spiritual leader the Dalai Lama. It destroyed many temples and monasteries as they were seen as superstitious by the communist rulers.

Tibet officials have indicated that the return of the Dalai Lama would boost tourism from Western nations and attract Tibetan Buddhist pilgrims from across China.

But any return appears unlikely with Beijing viewing him as a "splittist" intent on separating Tibet from China.


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