China Bans Travel to Tibet

Tibet is off limits to foreign tourists until after the October 1 holiday, according to the New York Times:

Tour operators who arrange the paperwork said the new regulations were issued on Sunday by the region’s tourism bureau without explanation. They said that foreigners already holding permits would be allowed to travel to Tibet but that restrictions would be placed on their movement, including requirements that they travel only with guides and stay in government-approved hotels. Tour operators said they were told the ban on new permits would remain in effect until at least Oct. 8.

Yong Hong, deputy sales manager at Xigaze China International Travel Service in Lhasa, said the new rules were unexpected and not particularly welcome. “It was a sudden thing, but this year is unusual,” he said, referring to the Oct. 1 National Day celebrations marking the founding of the People’s Republic.

Tourism, which makes up nearly 20 percent of the region’s economy, was battered by the rioting last year but has more than recovered, officials say. Nearly 1.4 million tourists visited the Tibet Autonomous Region in August, a monthly record, according to figures cited by Xinhua, the state news agency.

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