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Chinese, foreign visitors enjoy winter tourism in Tibet

Photo shows the Lhasa Snowland Restaurant in Tibet's capital of Lhasa. [Photo: Chinatibetnews.com] 

"I love the Makye Ame Bar! Tibet's winter is really wonderful!" A young Dutch man named Mark exclaimed excitedly in clumsy Chinese in the Makye Ame Bar on the Barkhor Street in downtown Lhasa.

It was in late January and Tibet is in winter.

The 1,000-meter Barkhor Street, the most bustling business center in Lhasa, features bars, restaurants and shops with Tibetan characteristics.

"Makye Ame" means "a maiden" in the Tibetan language and the bar is said to be a living place of the sixth Dalai Lama Tsangyang Gyatso, where he wrote a famous love poem "On the Mountaintop in the East."

Mark said he was deeply impressed by Tibet's unexpected beautiful winter and touched by Tibetans' warmth and piety. He is just one of so many foreign travelers in Tibet.

Though winter is usually a tourist slack season in Tibet, a restaurant named Lhasa Snowland Restaurant is crowded with tourists, whose number is still on the rise, according to the restaurant manager.

"Tibet looks special and unique in winter. I like this restaurant's western-style and Nepalese foods too," a backpacker surnamed Zhang said with a chuckle, while having lunch with his friends.

Zhang, a frequent visitor to Tibet, said he was keenly aware of the changes that had taken place in Tibet each time he reached Lhasa. "The quality of tourist services is getting better and better in terms of travel agencies, hotels and tourist sites," he noted.

While acknowledging the improvements of the region's tourism, Zhang also pointed out bad phenomena, such as cheating money out of travelers. "Some tourists like Tibetan accessories but it is hard for them to tell the genuine from the fake. So some peddlers extort the customers. This is not good," he said.

At present, Tibet tries to make breakthroughs in building local scenic spots into first-class tourist sites, winter tourism and developing tourism products.

Statistics show that Tibet received 5.56 million visitors in 2009, up 147.6 percent year on year.

In 2010 Tibet strives to receive six million Chinese and overseas tourists, according to the Tibet Autonomous Regional Tourism Bureau.