Despite ongoing crisis, authorities expect to see 15 million tourists annually by 2015
Tourism in Tibet surged in 2012 – recent figures show that more than 10 million people visited the region last year.
The vast majority of visitors will have been Chinese: in 2011 Chinese people accounted for around 97% of all visitors to the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR), the western part of TIbet that China defines as Tibet.
Easing of restrictions
In order to promote tourism, it has also recently been reported that Chinese authorities have decided to lift the restrictive conditions it introduced for foreign travellers entering the TAR, which includes the capital, Lhasa.
It is now much easier to secure a permit - now two people of the same nationality can obtain visas, rather than having to belong to a party of five.
Ethics of tourism
This development means that more people will be encouraged to travel to Tibet, but it is important that visitors travel ethically in the region.
However, other restrictions, such as certain regions being banned for foreign travellers, still remain in place. There is also a heavy military presence in many Tibetan towns.
Take action for Tibet
The world's biggest hotel chain, Intercontinental Hotel Group, wants to build and operate a huge new luxury resort in Lhasa, despite the ongoing human rights abuses and protests taking place. This tells the world that the situation is normal in Tibet – it isn’t. Email Intercontinental and ask them to leave Tibet:
Photo credit: Lauren Dedecker