China eyes 15 million tourists to Tibet by 2015

Reuters, Thursday 13 Jan 2011

China wants to more than double the number of tourists visiting restive Tibet by 2015, when it hopes the remote region will play host to around 15 million visitors a year, state media said on Thursday.

Ethnic tensions in Tibet have distracted the Chinese government and drawn international concern. Many Tibetans chafe under Chinese rule and believe that a sharp influx of central

Chinese investment primarily benefits Han Chinese migrants and state-owned companies, which dominate the economy.
China rejects these charges, saying it is only trying to bring development to a poor and backward region, including new transport links in the form of roads, railways and airports.

"Tibet will focus on building (itself as) an important world tourism destination," the official Xinhua news agency said, citing Tibet's government.

Tibet also hopes to more than double its income from tourism by 2015 to around 16 billion yuan ($2.42 billion) a year, creating more than 300,000 jobs, it added.

Tibet's economy has grown more quickly than the rest of China, sped by the completion of a railway to Lhasa, the regional capital of Tibet, and large mining projects.

But those projects have also brought more Chinese migrants to Tibet, leading to many Tibetans' perceptions that they have been left out of economic growth.

Since bloody demonstrations in 2008, the government has boosted training programmes, subsidies and investment there in an implicit recognition of the economic roots to the unrest.

Xinhua said the government wanted all the people of Tibet to "get rich from tourism", and would also promote tourism in rural areas where most Tibetans live.

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