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Outdoor Advertising Booms in Tibet

Outdoor advertisements have become increasingly popular in the Tibet Autonomous Region, known as the "roof of the world," in southwest China, with the rapid growth of the local economy in recent years.

In downtown Lhasa, capital city of Tibet, billboards of many well-known Chinese and foreign brands are found in almost every corner of the streets.

At the Potala Palace Square in Lhasa, where only pious Buddhism followers could be seen praying in the past, what catches the eyes of visitors is a large billboard for Lhasa Beer, a fast-selling local product. Around it are many smaller advertisements for financial firms, PC companies and telecommunications products.

Most of the advertisements use Chinese and Tibetan languages, while some also bear English, Japanese and French.

A number of well-known Chinese and foreign enterprises have established branch offices or chain stores in the city, covering a wide range of businesses in Tibet, which was described as "a place isolated from the outside world," by foreign travelers some 50 years ago.

In recent years, the local businessmen have seen the market potential of their own products like Tibetan herbs and handmade gold and silver, and paid more attention to advertising.

Some local businessmen name their shops with the name of Tibet's well-known treasures, like "Everest," or highlight the flavor of modern times, like "New Century."

Among an array of advertisements for garments and restaurants, billboards of beauty parlors, cosmetics, health products, or even Internet bars can be seen around Lhasa, and have become more and more popular among young people.

Li Peng, a businessman in Xi'an more than 1,000 km away, came to Lhasa in 1995 to start his silk banner and signboard business. He now runs an outdoor advertising company.

Li said there were fewer than 20 advertising companies in Lhasa seven years ago, but now there are more than 200 of them, and more are expected.

Competition among the companies is very fierce, he said. "It is no longer an easy job for advertising companies to make money in Lhasa."

(People’s Daily 05/03/2001)

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