Tibet Autonomous Region in southwest China saw a drastic increase in the number of overseas tourists in 2007, an annual growth of 136 percent, according to a local tourism official.
The plateau region received 365,000 visitors from abroad last year, 210,500 more than a year ago. They brought in 135.29 million U.S. dollars of revenue, up 122 percent year-on-year, said Wang Songping, deputy head of the tourism bureau of the regional government.
Japan replaced the United States as the largest source of overseas tourists to Tibet, and the number reached 78,000, 5.2 times that of 2006, Wang said.
Tibet hosted a record high of more than 4 million tourists both from other places of the country and overseas last year, an annual growth of 60.4 percent, statistics show.
The region's revenue from tourism surged 75.1 percent year-on-year to 4.85 billion yuan (668 million U.S. dollars).
Tourism revenue accounted for 14.2 percent of the gross domestic product in Tibet last year, 4.6 percentage points higher than previous year.
The number of visitors to Tibet is expected to hit 5 million this year, up 25 percent from a year earlier, and tourism revenue is predicted to reach 6 billion yuan (826 million U.S. dollars), up 24 percent.
Local authorities attributed the tourism boom to overseas promotional drives, the opening of Qinghai-Tibet railway and the third civilian airport in Nyingchi.
(Xinhua News Agency January 26, 2008)