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Lhasa announces incentives for agents to revive tourism

LHASA, Aug. 21 (Xinhua) -- Travel agencies will get bonuses for taking more tour groups to Lhasa, capital of southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, the local government has announced.

Gyangkar, chief of the Lhasa City Tourism Bureau, said on Tuesday the city government has set aside 1 million yuan (about 142,857 U.S. dollars) in hopes of reviving the tourism market, which was devastated after the March 14 Lhasa riot.

Under the plan, which is valid from Aug. 15 to Dec. 30, a travel agency can get 50,000 yuan for organizing a charter flight with at least 100 overseas tourists. An agency can get the same incentive for a 600-person train tour.

The same reward will be paid to agencies that bring in 1,000-2,000 foreign tourists this year. Foreign tourist arrivals of more than 2,000 this year will yield a double reward for an agency.

Lhasa, known as the "City of Sunshine", has long been considered one of the purest places on Earth. Tibet has more than 300 scenic sites, many of which are in or around Lhasa.

But tourism to the region plummeted after the March unrest, in which 19 people died and many schools, hospitals, homes and shops were damaged by arson. The region was off-limits to tourists for some time. Domestic tourists began to return in late April, but overseas ones didn't do so until June 25.

Tibet had 370,000 tourist arrivals in July, which was more than the first-half total of 340,000 but well below the year-earlier figure of 607,668. (source:xinhua)