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Tibetan tourism office suggests delaying trips


THE Tibet Autonomous Region tourism office in Shanghai is encouraging people to delay trips to Lhasa until September and October, after the busy summer season ends. They also advised people to book group tours as prices are cheaper and schedules better. "You can't get in Potala Palace if you are more than one hour late," said Liu Bihong, spokeswoman for the Tibet Tourism Bureau Shanghai Office. She returned from Lhasa last week. Her office recently canceled a Tibetan-style wedding show that would have recommended spots in Tibet for honeymooners. "We felt the timing was not good at the moment," Liu said. "The event is postponed indefinitely." Since the opening of the Qinghai-Tibet railway on July 1, tourists from across the country have swarmed to the remote region. Earlier media reports said Tibet had 301,000 tourists in the first 20 days of July, a 50 percent increase year on year. But getting there is only the first step. According to returnees from Tibet, Potala Palace, normally a part of most people's itineraries in Lhasa, has tightened personal identity and security checks. "It took us three hours to get into the palace, but it turned out the wait wasn't worthwhile," said Shanghai tourist Lu Qiang. His wife Fan Huiqing agreed. "In Lhasa, I felt as though the clock was ticking all the time," said Lu. "On several occasions, the guards in the palace were telling our guide to speed up." The Potala Palace allows up to 2,300 tourists daily. "But elsewhere in Tibet, it was not so crowded," Lu added, saying the trip was generally wonderful. To ensure entry to Potala Palace, tourists need to pick up an entry permit 24 hours prior to their visit. Permits are available at the palace's ticket booth provided you have valid identification. When visiting the palace, simply exchange the permit for a ticket. Admission costs 100 yuan (US$12.5) each. Lhasa's 10,000 hotel rooms are rarely vacant, tourism official Liu said, adding that reservations are necessary.

(Source:shanghaidaily.com , 2006-08-14)