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Tourists to Tibet surge in 2013

The Tibet Autonomous Region witnessed booming tourist numbers in 2013 as a record 12.91 million tourists visited the plateau land, tourism authorities said Sunday.

The total number of tourists visiting the region surged 22 percent year on year with a rise in visitors from overseas, said Wang Songping, an official with the regional tourism bureau.

More than 223,000 overseas tourists visited the region in 2013, up 14.5 percent year on year.

Tibet’s revenues in the tourism sector increased by 30.6 percent year on year to 16.51 billion yuan (2.72 billion U.S. dollars), Wang said.

He attributed the rise to nationwide promotional efforts, improved transportation access and an increasing number of individual trips.

Tibetan Buddhism heritage sites, such as Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple and Zhaxi Lhunbo Monastery, remain the most popular tourist attractions.

Ablikim, a dried fruit vendor from the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, northwest China, sightsees Lhasa while doing business.

He often walks along the newly-renovated Barkhor Street in downtown Lhasa, which surrounds Jokhang Temple.

Vendors of various ethnic groups used to crowd the street, blocking the way to the temple.

More than 3,000 stalls were relocated by November 2013 to the Barkhor Commercial Building, making the temple more accessible by tourists.

More than 330,000 people in Tibet, or 11 percent of its population, work in the tourism industry, the regional tourism bureau said.

The number of tourists traveling to Tibet grew on average 30 percent annually over the past six years.

The regional tourism bureau expects to see 15 million tourists annually by 2015.

source: xinhuanet, 02 Feb 2014

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