China official media confirmed construction plan for three new airports in TAR
The construction of three new airports in the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) has been announced as part of the Chinese government’s efforts to promote tourism and economic growth in the area.
In 2019 Beijing will begin building three new airports, all of which will be located in southern Tibet. The TAR already has five existing airports and the new sites are planned for Burang County in Ngari Prefecture, Lhunze County in Lhokha Prefecture and Tingri County in Shigatse Prefecture.
The scheme, known as the ‘3+1 project’, will receive 16.7 billion yuan ($ 2.6 billion) of Chinese investment and is due to be completed by 2021.
The Chinese government has long sought to turn Tibet into a tourist hotspot for Chinese visitors. The TAR’s current airports serve nine airlines operating 86 routes. According to the head of the Tibet Bureau of China’s Civil Aviation Administration, Bai Zhen, 4.5 million passengers passed through Lhasa airport in 2017 alone.
According to official figures, the TAR received nearly 40,000 foreign tourists from January to April this year, up 50.5 percent compared with the previous year. Additionally the region received nearly 2.7 million domestic (Chinese) tourists alone in these four months, up 63.5 percent year on year.
As reported by Free Tibet last week, at least one of the sites where airport construction will take place was subject to a land grab at the expense of local Tibetans, who received little in the way of compensation. The communication restrictions across Tibet make it difficult to assess the impact of the announced airports in the other areas.
Information supplied by Tibet Watch.