An announcement at this week’s National People’s Congress (NPC) that said Tibet looks to become one of the world’s top tourism destinations comes at the same time a travel ban has been implemented for the region, forbidding any visitors from entering.
Hong Wei, deputy director of the Tibet tourism development commission and NPC delegate, said government regulations will be reformed in order to make travel to the region more accessible.
“Tibet will be more open to domestic and foreign tourists in the next five years. We will simplify the procedure for foreigners to obtain travel permits and cut the waiting time,” said Hong.
As the China Daily reports, the reduced waiting time for Tibet travel permits will attract more tourists that may change Tibet into one of the world’s top tourist destinations over the next five years.
See Also: Foreigners Banned from Tibet in March
However, a “reduced waiting time” is the least of anyone’s troubles as any tourists or visitors wanting to travel to Tibet right now are out of luck. A travel ban has been implemented in Tibet from February 25 to March 30, forcing all non-locals from outside China to leave. This marks a politically-sensitive period in Tibet that culminates in Tibet Uprising Day, which takes place on March 10, a day that marks Tibetan opposition to Beijing rule.
Any foreign traveler wishing to enter Tibet must first procure a Tibet travel permit. As China Daily reports, this extra requirement is based on Tibet’s unique ethnic traditions, cultural heritage, reception capacity and ecological protection needs.
Padma Choling, head of the standing committee of the regional people’s congress, said Tibet has no plans to completely abolish permits for foreign travelers because its natural environment is complicated and the purpose of the permits is mainly to ensure the safety of the travelers.
Travel to Tibet is tightly controlled by local authorities, especially when concerning journalists. The 50th anniversary last September of what China calls the Tibet Autonomous Region was celebrated in grand style by the CCP, but not one foreign journalist was invited.
Besides tourism, China is also banking on the development of Tibet through the construction of a second railway line, the Sichuan-Tibet railway. Chairman of Tibet Losang Jamcan said the railway, 1,629 kilometers long and scheduled to be finished by 2030, will significantly improve people’s livelihoods along its route.