Winter Tourism Figures Up By 84 Percent
Among the many offers that were given for tourists to Tibet this past winter, free admission to some of the top tourist sites, half-price hotel rooms, and the reduced cost of flights have contributed hugely to the increase in winter tourism in Tibet. What was previously a traditionally quiet time of year has just seen a huge increase in tourists traveling to the region, making Tibet a hot winter tourist destination.
According to the latest figures released by the Tibet Autonomous Region’s Tourism Development Bureau, more than 2.46 million tourists, both international and domestic, visited the plateau region between November 1 2018 and March 15, 2019. This equates to a year-on-year increase of around 84.2 percent, one of the largest incremental increases in tourism anywhere in the world over the last ten years.
The winter season of 2018/2019 was the second time that the regional government pushed the promotion of winter tourism, in their campaign to attract more tourists to Tibet in the winter months, a usually quiet time of year. This season, many people were given free admissions to such awesome tourist sites as the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Potala Palace, which normally cost around 20 yuan per person (around $29.70). Advanced reservations were required in order to avail of the free access, and hundreds of thousands of tourists took advantage of the free tours of the palace in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa.
The campaign also required all of the hotels in the region to offer half-priced hotel rooms, which included all of the big hotel chains, such as the Five-Star Shangri-La Hotel in Lhasa. The same measures were introduced in 2018, from February to April, and more than doubled the tourists traveling to Tibet for the period of November 1 2017 to April 30 2018, compared to the same period in the previous winter. Traditionally, tourism in Tibet is only at its peak from May to October, and normally goes quiet in the winter months, as most people fear the plateau region is too cold for tourism.
However, this past winter, average occupancy in Lhasa hotels reached as high as 60 percent, with some of the hotels seeing an increase to almost 90 percent occupancy during the period. Many of the hotels in Lhasa have had to reduce their staff in the winter month, as there were not enough guests to warrant their continued employment. This year, the staff have been kept on in their hotels, as the tourists have flocked to Tibet in the winter months.
With hundreds of thousands of people in the Lhasa city and surroundings making their living from tourism, this has proved to be a huge boost in their annual incomes, as they still retained employment throughout most of the winter. In the meantime, the region has stepped up its work on improving the facilities and in their efforts of environmental protection, in order to better cope with the increase in tourism in Tibet.
Many of the smaller hotels and businesses that would close down for the winter have remained open this past winter, as tourists flew into the Tibetan capital for long stays in the city and tours as well as for long weekends, thanks to the cheap flights from Chengdu and Chongqing this winter. While the temperature in the city is not as cold as many people believe during the day, there is a huge difference in temperature between day and night, which has always put people off visiting. Altitude sickness is also a bigger concern in the winter months, as there are fewer leafy trees promoting oxygen production. To counter this, many of the smaller hotels have installed under-floor heating, and several large hotels have added oxygen-generating systems to their rooms to help ease the symptoms of altitude sickness for their guests.
TAG: tourism increase increase in tourism winter tourism winter tours tibet tourism


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