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Tibet’s Medog County restricts tourist arrivals

Local authorities in Medog County, the last county in China to gain road access to the outside world, announced Wednesday it would decrease the number of tourists to fewer than 15,000 annually by 2015.

A highway linking Zhamog Township, the county seat of Bome County, and Medog in Nyingchi Prefecture in southeastern Tibet opened in October, putting an end to the isolation of a region once dubbed the “secret lotus.”

The county government of Medog published a document on establishing a better tourism industry following the opening of the highway, which has attracted the interest of tourists worldwide.

Official statistics show that the region saw tourism arrivals of 29,900 from January to July, bringing total revenues of 6.57 million yuan (about 108,000 U.S.dollars).

Lhagpa, director of Medog County’s tourism bureau, said the number of tourists annually will be restricted to under 15,000 by 2015 in order to better protect the region’s ecological environment.

The government will preserve the nature and cultural landscape as well as explore a new route for hikers, according to the document.

Meanwhile, more than 100 local families will be involved in the tourism industry, and infrastructure will be greatly improved by the end of 2015.

Mountain paths connecting villages and towns were once the only travel routes, making foot travel and horses the only transportation methods in Medog, which has a population of 12,000.

An adobe road dug along cliffs was built in 1994, but has only been accessible between July and September. Frequent fatal traffic accidents have occurred on the poorly-built roads.

Construction of the new road was approved by the State Council, China’s cabinet, in 2008. Work officially began in April 2009.

source: Xinhua, 13 NOV 2013

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