An official of the Tibet Autonomous Region said Tuesday the
plateau is ready to host more tourists, as tourism industry is both
environment-friendly and promises quick wealth to the
underdeveloped southwest China region.
"It's not that too many tourists are coming to Tibet -- there'
re too few of them," said Hao Peng, deputy secretary of the Tibet
Regional Communist Party Committee and a delegate to the ongoing
17th National Congress of the Communist Party of China.
He refuted reports that criticized tourism as detrimental to
This year Tibet has received 3.5 million tourists, compared with
50 million that visited Yunnan Province also in southwest China, he
quoted figures from local tourism administrations.
"Covering 1.2 million square kilometers, Tibet far outsizes
Yunnan," he said during a group discussion of the Tibet delegation
to the Party congress, which opened to Chinese and overseas
The Qinghai-Tibet Railway that started operation in July 2006
instantly drove up that year's total tourist arrivals to 2.5
million. About 3.8 million people are expected to visit Tibet this
year, bringing 4 billion to 5 billion yuan (US$513 million to
US$641 million) of tourism revenue.
"Developing tourism does not necessarily contradict environment
preservation," Hao said. "Despite the rising number of tourists,
the air quality in Lhasa remains good almost all year round."
He said Tibet has stepped up measures to prevent pollution in
recent years. "Plastic bags are no more provided for free at
Lhasa's stores and supermarkets, and many locals voluntarily clean
up garbage at major tourist destinations."
Under such circumstances, a few million tourists won't have much
impact on Tibet's environment, said Qiangba Puncog, chairman of the
regional government. "We don't foresee any problem even if there
are twice as many."
Yet his government has moved to protect the Potala Palace and
some other cultural heritage sites from potential damage. "We have
restricted the daily number of visitors to 2,300 and 3,000 to ease
the pressure," he said.
The Potala Palace, more than 1,300 years old, is a wood
structure and therefore more vulnerable to damage.
He also revealed a plan to build a separate exhibition hall down
the hill, so that visitors can have a glimpse of the best
collections without climbing up the golden-roofed palace.
(Xinhua News Agency October 17, 2007)