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May Day brings hope to tourism industry
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Tour bus driver Liu Zhenhu said his business was slowly recovering in the run up to the peak season. "Although the March 14 riot caused great losses, Lhasa is still regarded by tourists as sacred," he said.

The remote Himalayan region has seen a tourism boom, especially since the opening of the Qinghai-Tibet railway, which linked Tibet with the rest of China for the first time by train in July 2006.

Tibet received 4 million tourists from home and abroad in 2007, up 60 percent from 2006. Tourism revenue reached 4.8 billion yuan (687 million U.S. dollars), accounting for more than 14 percent of the region's gross domestic product.

Other venerated Buddhist areas, which had been rocked by riots in the southwest Sichuan and the northwest Gansu provinces, also saw an increase in tourists over the second national public holiday since the riot.

"The scenery here is still beautiful and pure," said a young woman who was visiting Larang Monastery, in Xiahe county of Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, in Gansu Province.

"We traveled 30 hours on the train and four hours by bus from Zhejiang Province to get here," she said.

The monastery witnessed hundreds of visitors on May 1 after receiving about 10 tourists a day last month.

Half of the rooms in Gannan's Prince Hotel on May 1 were booked, but the hotel had only had one or two guests a day in April, said a receptionist.

Other hotel operators in Gannan were also optimistic.

A manager of the Overseas Chinese Hotel said some tourists had booked rooms last year, but they had only postponed, not canceled, their visits.

At the Xiling Hotel, a receptionist told Xinhua that they were preparing to receive a group from Shanghai.

The Gesanghua Tent Hotel, a family hotel on the grasslands, is ready to receive visitors.

"The number of domestic and overseas tourists used to be large, but it has been affected. I believe it will get better," said ethnic Tibetan manager Sangpa.

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