Tibet receives first tour group since riot
Friday, 25 April 2008, 07:00 Hrs
Lhasa: The Chinese government has allowed the first domestic tour group into Tibet some six weeks after the March 14 unrest in the region. Each member of the 15-member tour group, which arrived at the Lhasa railway station Thursday, was presented with a 'Khada' - a long white silk scarf used as a greeting gift in Tibet -- by the staff of the travel agency. The tourists were driven to a downtown hotel and the media was not allowed to ask them questions. "The group was originally scheduled to come here before March 14, but was delayed due to the unrest," a tour guide identified only as Zhang told Xinhua. "They will leave Tibet Saturday afternoon," he said without providing further details. "Tibet will keep its image as a safe, healthy and civilized tourist destination," he said. Regional tourism office said that another three tour groups comprising 34 domestic tourists arranged by travel agencies will visit Tibet Friday, Saturday and Tuesday next week. But it did not say when Tibet will reopen to overseas tourists. The regional government stopped issuing tourist permits to overseas travellers and tourism authorities suggested travel agencies postpone organizing tour groups in the wake of the riots. It cited safety concerns and reconstruction of tourism facilities around scenic spots damaged during the unrest. Individual domestic travellers have not been prohibited from entering the region. The remote southwestern Chinese region has seen a tourism boom in the past few years, especially since the opening in July 2006 of the Qinghai-Tibet railway which has linked Tibet with the rest of China for the first time by train.