Tibet Reopens to Chinese Tour Groups
China announced they are allowing domestic tour groups back to Tibet. They have yet to mention when foreign tourists will be allowed back in.
Four groups of Chinese visitors are expected to arrive in the Himalayan region through Tuesday, the Xinhua News Agency said.
The report quoted Zhanor, the regional deputy tourism director, as saying he did not know when the region would reopen to foreign tourists, who have been banned since violent anti-government riots broke out in the capital, Lhasa, on March 14.
"Tourists needn't worry about their trip in Tibet, and we can ensure good services for them, such as catering, hotel and transport," Zhanor, who like many Tibetans uses just one name, was quoted as saying.
"Tibet will keep its image as a safe, healthy and civilized tourist destination," he said.
China earlier said it would allow foreigners back into Tibet from May 1, but later reversed that decision, citing the need to secure safe passage for the Olympic torch relay to Mount Everest _ expected in early May _ and continuing safety concerns in Lhasa.
In a sign of continuing security issues, Tibet's hard-line regional government vowed Thursday to deal firmly with people spreading rumors, as part of a campaign against alleged separatists behind the protests in Lhasa and elsewhere that Beijing claims were supported by the exiled Buddhist leader the Dalai Lama.
"Since the March 14 incident in Lhasa some hostile forces both from home and abroad with secret motives have tried to spread rumors, create disturbances and deceive the public," a notice on the Tibetan government Web site said Thursday.
"A small number of the public have believed these rumors and passed the rumors on," the notice said. "Every department should treat this very seriously, and do good work on education management, and protect the stability of society."
Tibet received 4 million visitors last year, up 60 percent from 2006, and the crush of sightseers has forced authorities to limit visits to some sites, including the Potala, a former residence of the Dalai Lama listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
Despite the ban, authorities have said they are optimistic of meeting a full-year target of 5.5 million domestic and foreign visitors this year _ more than double the size of the region's permanent population.