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Tourism official dismisses ban on foreign tourists' travel to Tibet

A leading official with the Tibet Autonomous Regional Tourism Administration confirmed Thursday there were no restrictions on foreigners' travel to Tibet during the National Day holiday season.

Wang Songping, deputy chief of Tibet Autonomous Regional Tourism Administration, said rumors of the Tibet Autonomous Region's imposing restrictions on foreigners' travel to Tibet were "untrue."

Tourists from Austria take a tour in Ngari Prefecture, southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, on June 5, 2009. [Xinhua Photo]


"We have not imposed any restrictions banning foreign tourists' travel to Tibet," Wang said in an interview with Xinhua Thursday.

The number of domestic and overseas tourists to Tibet will rise by a big margin during this year's National Day holiday season, said Wang, quoting tourism figures to support his statement.

Tourist companies in Lhasa, the regional capital of Tibet, have accepted reservation requests from 36 travel groups for the holiday season, including 12 teams with 50 foreign tourists.

The number of group reservations Lhasa-based travel agencies have received for the period this year exceeded record numbers achieved in 2007, said Wang.

Because of factors such as the growing number of travel groups to Tibet and limited capacity, some Tibetan travel agencies might have made adjustments to travel schedules of certain tourist groups in order to guarantee the best service for tourists during their stay in the plateau region.

"That does not mean restricting foreigners from traveling to Tibet," Wang said.

Tibet hosted more than 4.09 million domestic and overseas tourists in the first eight months of this year, up 248.1 percent.

This year's National Day holiday season, which starts on Oct. 1, includes the Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Mooncake festival, which falls on Oct.3. The holiday season will last eight days, the longest ever.

(Xinhua News Agency September 25, 2009)