A tourist takes a photo of his child wearing a Tibetan costume in front of the Potala Palace in Lhasa on June 27. (PHOTO / CHINA NEWS SERVICE)
A flood of tourists, some from overseas, have come to enjoy the unique cultural and natural beauties of the Tibet autonomous region, which has witnessed a travel boom recently.
During the first half of this year, the region received more than 24 million tourist visits, an increase of 41 percent year-on-year, according to the regional tourism development department. It said that tourism revenue exceeded 26 billion yuan ($3.6 billion), up 47.5 percent year-on-year.
Of the total tourists received, 30,455 were inbound visitors — travelers from overseas — an increase of 494 percent year-on-year, while more than 24.21 million were domestic visitors, a 41 percent year-on-year increase.
"What impressed me the most was the magnificent Potala Palace and strong religious culture in Lhasa. I feel something different from other places I visited before," said Hu Wei, a tourist from Sichuan province.
"Like many tourists who have themselves photographed wearing traditional Tibetan attire, I also had a try, and I really liked the beauty of the Tibetan costumes," Hu said.
He added that he had traveled to monasteries and natural scenery sites in the region, and was impressed by the hospitality of the local people and the improvement in tourism services.
"When I go back home, I will share my travel experiences in Tibet with my friends and relatives," he said.
The Chinese online travel agency Ctrip Group reported that travel order volume, including transportation and hotel bookings, for destinations in Tibet during the first half of the year increased by 103 percent compared with the same period in 2019. The figure reflects a continuous warming trend of tourism in the region.
With the sharp increase in visits, tourists have encountered difficulties in booking, and Tibet has vowed to improve its service.
"It is harder to get tickets to some hot tourism spots, such as the Potala Palace, as the number of tourists has been increasing significantly recently," said Chodar, a tour guide in Lhasa. "I see large numbers of tourists lined up at the entrance of the palace every day. Visitors have to make a reservation at least 10 days in advance."
"As a travel agency, we have to make reservations 15 days ahead to get a group ticket," Gu, of Tibet Letu Outdoor Tourism Co, was quoted as saying by Tibet Commerce Daily.
To cater to the growing demand, Tibet is taking many steps, such as developing new tourism routes in different parts of the region, including a border tour along national highway G219, and a trip to Namtso Lake, said Wang Xiaodong, head of the regional tourism development department.
He said that to provide a better tourism experience, his department regularly inspects and conducts interviews at key scenic spots, star-rated hotels and travel agencies to avoid any violations in the tourism market rules.
"We want to attract more people to the region and contribute to the sustainable development of the region's tourism market," Wang said.
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