(TibetanReview.net, Jan03’23) – Despite raging Covid-19 infections, China said today that it will reopen today “the iconic Potala Palace” in Tibet’s capital Lhasa for tourism after it had remained closed for more than four months during much of which the level of the pandemic’s spread across the mainland was much lower. The decision followed the reopening of several other major religious tourist attractions in and around Lhasa. It also followed the launch from Jan 1 of a new round of a Winter Tour Campaign to attract more visitors to the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) in the winter time.
Visitors to the Potala Palace, the historical winter residence of the Dalai Lamas and their government headquarters, will enter free of charge until Mar 15, with online reservations required one day in advance, reported the official chinadaily.com.cn Jan 2, citing an announcement issued Jan 1by the administration of the palace.
Describing it as a model of ancient architecture and home to over 100,000 cultural relics, the report said the palace will be open from 9:30 am to 2:00 pm every day.
The report further said the palace was built by Tibetan King “Songtsa Gambo” in the seventh century and expanded in the 17th century by the fifth Dalai Lama, adding that it was included on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1994.
The reopening of the Potala Palace followed the reopening on Dec 27 of the Jokhang Temple, considered the holiest in Tibet. Jokhang’s reopening was stated to have followed the reopening of other major monasteries in Lhasa, including Sera, Drepung and Ganden, and the Samye Monastery in Lhokha.
Meanwhile, more and more countries are announcing restrictions on travellers from China, citing its lack of transparency around infection data and the risk of new variants emerging as reasons. These countries require the travellers to submit a negative Covid-19 test result. Currently they include Australia, Canada, Morocco, India, the United States, Britain, France, Italy, Japan, Spain, Malaysia, Taiwan and South Korea, as listed by the firstpost.com Jan 3.
China has condemned these mandatory Covid-19 test requirements and warned that it could take “countermeasures” in response, the report said.