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May Day brings hope to tourism industry
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A trickle of Chinese tourists began arriving in ethnic Tibetan areas of west China over the May Day holiday, sparking hopes of a revival in the tourism industry after the unrest in March.

The Tourism Administration of Tibet Autonomous Region said about 200 people were expected to come to Tibet in small groups during the three-day holiday. Bigger groups of more than 50 would arrive after May 5 and about 600 visitors were expected around mid-May.

However, the region is still closed to foreign tourists for the foreseeable future.

"We are planning to open Tibet to foreign tourists, but the specific date is not decided yet as the time is not right. However, it will not take long," said Tanor, deputy director of the regional tourism administration.

"More than 20 tourist groups with 200 people will arrive in Tibet during the three-day holiday. The number used to be 5,000 tourists per day last year in May Day Holiday," said Tanor.

Hotel and tour operators were upbeat about the prospects of more guests arriving as the summer drew on.

"Lhasa seems busier and livelier than what I imagined," said Wang Fujun, who was taking photos at the square outside the Potala Palace. Wang arrived in Lhasa on Wednesday from southwest city of Chengdu.

Tibet resumed receiving domestic tourist groups in late April and received its first group on April 24 since the March 14 riot. However, independent Chinese travelers have not been prohibited from entering the region.

Increasing groups and independent tourists visited the holy land since then and the first "May Day Holiday" group arrived on late Wednesday, said Xu Jianmin, manager of the Lhasa Travel Agency.

"We finally received the 32-member group which had been expected for a long time," Xu said. He believed tourism in Lhasa would increase after the May Day Holiday.

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