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Over 2,500 Tourists a Day to Be Denied Entry to Potala Palace


Up to 2,640 tourists each day will be turned away from Tibet's architectural icon, the Potala Palace, due to huge demand for tickets.

The opening of the new Qinghai-Tibet railway on July 1 will add 3,000 to 4,000 tourists each day to Lhasa but only 1,800 tickets to the palace will be available for sale. It is anticipated that about 3,600 of tourists a day will want to visit Potala Palace. Of the 1,800 tickets available, only 960 can be sold to group tourists and the remainder are reserved for Tibetan Buddhist believers or a handful of independent travelers. A local tourism official searched for a bright side. "It is not a bad idea to appreciate the Potala Palace from the outside, for instance, taking a walk around the holy building," he suggested. A project to improve the environment of the surrounding areas of the Potala Palace, also known as the winter palace of the Dalai Lama, will be finished in late September. First built by the Tibetan King Songtsa Gambo in the 7th century during the Tang Dynasty (618-907), the Potala Palace was extended during the 17th century by the Dalai Lama, who ruled Tibet from the 13-storey building on the Red Hill, 3,600 meters above sea level. The Potala Palace features the essence of ancient Tibetan architecture and art, and houses countless artifacts. Both the Potala Palace and Norbu Linkag, the summer palace of the Dalai Lama, are on the World Heritage List of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). An entrance limit to the Potala Palace was introduced in 2003 to protect the site.
Tourism is the main industry in Tibet. Official statistics show that in the first quarter of this year, the number of tourists to Tibet increased 1.8 percent from the same period in 2005, with 3,274 overseas tourists providing an income of 1.81 million U.S. dollars.

(Source:Chinabroadcast.cn , 2006-06-16)