Tibet is a plateau region in Asia, north of the Himalayas which is home to the ethnic group of people called Tibetans. It is the highest region on earth, often called the roof of the world. Today Tibet is administered by the People`s Republic of China (PRC). Government of Tibet in Exile has consistently held that Tibet has been under illegal Chinese occupancy since China invaded the independent state in 1949/50 which as according to PRC Tibet has always been an integral part of China. (Government Of Tibet in Exile, Status of Tibet, Para. 1)

The fast growing tourism industry has always had breaks in its development as the political situation got worse after the March`08 riots in the capital of Tibet, Lhasa which consequently led to the ban of foreign tourist from Tibet by the Chinese Government. The travel ban came as the Tourism in Tibet started to flourish, the number of visits to Tibet increased in recent years because of the easy access to the region, growth of world interest in Buddhism and the surge in Chinese incomes spurred domestic travel yet the ban resulted in a fall in number of visitors from 2.2 million in 2008 as compared with four million the year before.

Statistics released by the tourism bureau indicate that from January to August 2009, Tibet has attracted 4.09 million domestic (Chinese) and foreign tourists, a 2.5-time growth over the same period in 2008. The tourism industry has generated a total income of 3.23 billion yuan in the past eight months. In August, Tibet saw the largest number of tourists in one month with 1.37 million, while the total income from tourism also reached to 1 billion yuan. By now, 4,664 families of 34,979 people have engaged in the tourism industry, and each family can earn an annual income of 13,066 yuan. (est. 1900 USD)

There is still a state of confusion in Tibet as various reports state that the foreign tourist were banned because of the sensitivity of the 60th birthday celebration of Communist china from Sep 24 to Oct 8.(“China bans foreigners from Tibet: tourism office”, 22 September 2009). Later on reports suggested that tourist are still allowed entry but only with tour groups not individually.(Bodeen.C 2009 , 24 September).As a tourist if you are not sure if the entry is permitted into a country or not, the tourist will automatically look for places where the political situation is much more stabilized.

Crackdown in Tibet has raised questions about future travel to the area, from one point it can be seen as tourism in Tibet  legitimises  China`s actions since 1950 and on the contrary, by visiting Tibet one can know about exactly what happened and often travellers come home eager to help, not forgetting the local people.

Human rights are also a major cause of concern as after every protest by Tibetans against the Chinese government, all kinds of global attention is ceased. As foreign media has been effectively barred from reporting about Tibet in the past too. Recently the Chinese government turned down the request from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to visit Tibet on the basis of being “Inconvenient”.(Human Rights Watch, 2009, News section)

Tibet is and will always be the epicenter of Buddhist culture; the point is to protect the culture and its tradition while addressing the key grievances. The repressive policies would not provide a solution for the stability across Tibet and certainly not for tourism. Stability can only be achieved if there is a harmonious corporation between the Tibetan government in exile and the Chinese government as the local inhabitants are the ones who get affected by this issue the most. Tourism in Tibet has the potential to be one of the most visited destinations of all times, yet the political situation haunts its development


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