Environment Is More Important Than Tourism in Tibet
At the recent Fourth China Tibet Tourism and Cultural Expo, the chairman of the regional government in Tibet stated that they will be implementing changes to reduce the environmental impact of tourism in Tibet. With the massive boom in tourism over the last 6 years, it is essential to ensure the environment at some of Tibet's biggest tourist attractions is not damaged by the huge number of tourists treading on the landscape.
Tourism now contributes to around thirty percent of the region’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and this is continually rising year on year. The Tibet Tourism Bureau (TTB) is expecting and increase in the number of tourists traveling to Tibet to reach around 30 million in 2019, a 200 percent increase from the 10 million tourists clocked in 2012, and a 50 percent in crease in tourism since 2015, which saw around 20 million tourists flocking to the plateau.

Despite this massive growth in the Tibetan tourism industry, the regional government says it has always had the environment as its prime concern. Chairman of the regional government, Qizhala, said that they are working with environmental tourism experts that are specialists in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, and are working on new ways to balance tourism and the effect on the environment. Blind development and over-development are being halted in their efforts to ensure a reduced environmental impact.
Plans are also in place to reduce the number of visitors to some of the most environmentally impacted areas of the region, including scenic spots near the region’s glaciers, which are being severely impacted by the footprints of millions of tourists. 2019 will see an upper limit on the number of tourists permitted to visit Mount Qomolangma (Mount Everest), to ensure the area around the mountain, most especially its unique glaciers, has a line of environmental protection.

Over the last nine years, more than 1.4 billion US dollars has been poured into the region for the ecological protection of the plateau’s natural landscapes. 2015 saw the new reforms in farmer’s compensation, which meant that farmers and herders that suffered livestock losses at the claws of wild animals could get compensation for their lost livestock. In total, the regional government has already spent more than 85 million yuan in compensation under this directive.
Another directive proposed at the Expo by the Director of the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Qinghai-Tibet Plateau Institute, Yao Tandong, was that more national parks needed to be established on the plateau to better protect the environment while making better use of the tourism resources at hand. According to Tandong, once more national parks have been set up, there can be better planning for the protection of their environmental zones that can help to minimize the damage caused by excessive tourism.
The four areas currently being considered for national parks include: Siling Co, Tibet’s largest lake; Mount Qomolangma; Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon; and the Earth Forest in the Guge Kingdom in Ngari Prefecture.
TAG: eco-tourism comes to Tibet environmental protection of the Tibetan plateau Fourth China Tibet Tourism and Cultural Expo Gross Domestic Product Tourism in Tibet


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