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Tibet's tourism recovers quickly from March violence
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Tibet Autonomous Region was seeing quick recovery of local tourism industry over the last two months from the impact of the March 14 violence, an official with the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) said on Tuesday.

"According to figures provided by the Tibet Autonomous Regional Tourism Bureau, the southwest China region had 96,000 tourist arrivals in June and the figure jumped to 350,000 for July. Tibet's tourism industry is recovering quickly," CNTA's deputy director Du Jiang told a press conference held in the Chinese capital.

The March 14 violence led to the deaths of at least 18 civilians and one policeman. It also left 382 civilians and 241 police injured, businesses looted and residences, shops and vehicles torched.

Du said the violence forced the region to stop issuing tourist permits to overseas travelers over tourists' safety concerns.

After the incident, local governments of all levels moved quickly to rebuild tourism facilities around scenic spots damaged in the unrest, which paved the way for re-opening the region to tourists, Du said.

Tibet was re-opened to domestic tour groups on April 24, followed by visitors from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan in May and foreign tourists on group tours as of June 25.

In late July, the Tibet autonomous regional government said in a briefing that the March 14 violence had dealt a heavy blow to its tourism industry.

The disturbance caused a 69-percent year-on-year decline in first-half tourist arrivals in Tibet, to just 342,000 people, according to the briefing.

The regional government's tourist income stood at 290 million yuan (42 million U.S. dollars) in the first half, down 71 percent, he said.

The remote southwestern region has experienced a tourism boom in the past few years, especially since the opening of the Qinghai-Tibet railway on July 1, 2006 -- the first rail link between Tibet and the rest of China.

Tibet hosted 4 million domestic and foreign tourists last year, up 60 percent from 2006. Tourism revenue reached 4.8 billion yuan in 2007, accounting for more than 14 percent of the region's gross domestic product.

Before the riots, tourism had experienced robust growth, with 110,000 tourists, including 6,000 from overseas, in the first two months, up 60 percent from the same period a year earlier.

(Xinhua News Agency August 6, 2008)

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