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Rural Tibetans Benefit from Tourism


More and more rural Tibetans, who traditionally live off farming and husbandry, have now found a new way to shake off poverty. They are now making a living by catering to the needs of visiting tourists. More than 30,000 Tibetan farmers took part in catering services in 2005 with each earning an average of 2,000 yuan (US$250), according to a press release from the regional tourism bureau on Friday. The Bureau said about 300 rural Tibetan families are leading a better life than ordinary Tibetans thanks to the lucrative tourism in Tibet, where the average annual income per person was around 2,000 yuan in 2005. In Tibet's vast rural areas, traditional industries are considerably hindered by a low level of productivity and vulnerability to environmental pollution, said Tibet's Vice-Chairman Losang Jamcun. Tourism should be a significant part of the rural economy and a fast way to increase the income of rural citizens, said the vice chairman. With Tibet's booming tourism industry, more tourists will branch out to the vast farms and pastures, enabling more rural Tibetans to moonlight as caterers, said Bagzho, director of the tourism bureau. Bagzho said with his bureau's support, nearly 20,000 rural Tibetans had offered services to tourists in the past four years. In 2006, the director said, the bureau will continue with such support and pledges to incorporate 100 to 200 new rural households into the industry. The local tourism is bound to mushroom after the Qinghai-Tibet railway begins test runs in July, which will bring more benefits to those rural caterers, he said.