(TibetanReview.net, Apr 01, 2009) — After having shutdown Tibet to foreign tourists in the run up to a series of sensitive anniversaries, including the Tibetan New Year (Feb 25-27), the 50th anniversary of the Tibet uprising day (Mar 10) and China’s recently instituted Serfs Emancipation Day (Mar 28), China said Mar 29 that foreign tourists will finally be let in from Apr 5. “Tibet is harmonious and safe now. Travel agencies, tourist resorts and hotels are well prepared for tourists,” China’s official Xinhua news agency Mar 29 quoted Bachug, head of the tourism administration of Tibet Autonomous Region, as saying.
“Reception work was suspended in March for the sake of travelers’ safety,” Bachug was quoted as saying.
Also, China’s official China Daily newspaper Mar 31 reported that so far, more than 100 foreign tour groups had registered to visit Tibet this year. It cited an earlier Xinhua report as saying the region was entering “the best season for travel and will see a big increase in tourism” starting April.
However, the AFP Mar 30 said there was confusion about the planned re-opening among travel agents and others in the industry. For one, the AFP said it was told by an unnamed official at the tourism administration of Tibet, “Foreign tourists can go to Tibet but need a confirmation letter from the police.” It was also told by an employee at the Chengdu China Travel Service agency in Sichuan Province, which organises Tibet tours, “Foreign tourists can’t go to Tibet until April 28th, that’s from a notice from the Sichuan Travel Administration.”
The confusion has been compounded by the fact that China’s foreign ministry has kept maintaining that Tibet had never been closed for foreign travellers and media while travel agents kept citing government notices saying the region had been closed to foreign travellers.