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Tibet seeing a record number of travelers
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Tibet for the first time received more than 1 million tourists from home and abroad in a single month, setting a new record.

Tibet welcomed 1.22 million tourists in July, 2.3 times more than the same time last year, according to a statement from the tourism bureau of the Tibet autonomous region released Friday.

The tourists brought revenue of 1.09 billion yuan ($160 million) to Tibet, 1.9 times more than the same period last year.

"Tourism in Tibet has recovered well, thanks to the stable situation and strong promotions by the tourism bureau," Huang Lihua, general manager of China International Travel Service of the Tibet autonomous region, told China Daily.

In the first seven months of this year, Tibet had 2.71 million tourists and earned 2.29 billion yuan. Both figures more than doubled the figures for the same time last year.

Tibet's tourism bureau did not disclose how many domestic and foreign tourists it has received respectively. But Huang said he has been impressed by the fast-growing number of domestic tourists this summer.

"We were short of tour guides for tourists from other parts of the country. We didn't have enough vehicles for the tour groups either," he said.

At a time when various travel service companies are scrambling for these resources, two new associations for tour group vehicles and tour guides were established in Tibet, he said.

Air China, which usually has five flights a week from Beijing to Nyingchi, an attraction in the southeastern part of Tibet, has increased the number of flights to two a day in order to satisfy the demand.

Guo Weihua, manager of the domestic tourism department with China Travel Service Head Office Co Ltd, said his company even had to turn down some tourists, because train tickets to Tibet are quite difficult to purchase.

A blogger "woxiangyousi" who entered Tibet on his own from Chengdu for a 20-day trip last month, said that he could not even get a bus ticket to some towns in northern Tibet because of the huge travel flow.

Qian Li, a tourist from Beijing, said everywhere he visited in Tibet was full of tourists.

Tibet is "a sacred place in the mind of many tourists," and that is why it has drawn so many tourists, Guo Weihua said.

Also, the riots in Xinjiang last month scared some tourists away from that area, causing some of them to come to Tibet instead.

(China Daily August 22, 2009)

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