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China cuts rates to attract more tourists to Tibet

(TibetanReview.net, Dec 24) — To make up for losses in the number of tourist visitors and tourism income as a result of the March Tibetan uprising and the subsequent brutal crackdown, China is promoting winter tour packages with all-round cuts in rates for the visitors, according to China’s official Xinhua news agency Dec 23. “Most of the tourist attractions, airline companies, hotels and travel services joined the promotion and offered discounts,” deputy chief Wang Songping of Tibet tourism bureau was quoted as saying.

The rate cuts are not new. China already announced such rate cuts months earlier after it reopened Tibet for both Chinese and overseas tourists while winter rate cuts are routine. So, the new announcement could mean two things: first, to promote winter tourism more vigorously, and, second, to possibly provide bigger rate cuts than before.

The report cited Wang as saying tourist destinations in Nyingchi Prefecture, which borders India and Myanmar, had cut prices by half, while those in Lhasa and Xigaze had begun lowering prices by 20 to 50 percent in late October. It said many hotels in Lhasa had taken 20 to 70 percent off their room rates, while air tickets from Beijing to Lhasa were now available at 70 percent or 80 percent of the original fare.

The TAR’s tourism market reopened to Chinese travellers in late April and to other foreign sightseers on Jun 25.

Tourism figures are still below what they were last year. Lhasa received 10,500 visitors in Nov’08, down 4.62 percent year-on-year, the report said. And the figure for 2009 is expected to reach only about three million, well below the figure of four million in 2007, although more than the 2.2 million in 2008.

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