A surge in tourism in Lhasa, following the launch of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway on July 1, has led to illegal ticket sales.
For hundreds of tourists confronted with a "sold out" sign at the gate of Potala Palace, the only way of getting a close look at the world-famous cultural relic is to turn to ticket touts.
The Tibetan cultural authorities issued a regulation July 1st limiting the daily visitor quota for Potala Palace to 2300 - 1600 from tourist groups and 700 Tibetan Buddhist believers and individual tourists.
But according to Zhanor, deputy director with the Tibet Autonomous Region tourism bureau, 5000 tourists visit Tibet every day, including 1700 who take the Qinghai-Tibet Railway.
The official said an advance sales system had been set up to encourage people to visit the palace at different times of the day. So far, the system has managed to cope with demands from tourist groups.
He added that the Potala Palace is still under repair, which limits tourist numbers.
"Conserving the building is more important than developing tourism," he said.
Authorities plan to raise summer season ticket prices for Potala Palace to 300 yuan next year, to encourage tourists to come in the winter season, when the price is a more affordable 100 yuan. But experts say the move is likely to lead to increased illegal ticket sales.
(Xinhua News Agency August 14, 2006)