Tibet to receive first tour group since March 14 unrest

Updated: 2008-04-24 20:21

LHASA - Tibet is to greet its first domestic tour group since the March 14 unrest on Thursday evening, another sign that the region is returning to normal.

The 15-member tour group from the eastern city of Hangzhou is scheduled to arrive in Lhasa at about 9:50 p.m., said Zhanor, deputy director of the Tibet Autonomous Regional Tourism Bureau.

The group, arranged by the Tibet Century International Travel Service, came by train from Xining, the capital of Qinghai Province, which borders Tibet, Zhanor said.

"Tourists needn't worry about their trip in Tibet, and we can ensure good services for them, such as catering, hotel and transport," he said.

"Tibet will keep its image as a safe, healthy and civilized tourist destination," he said.

Zhanor revealed that another three tour groups comprising 34 domestic tourists arranged by travel agencies will visit Tibet on Friday, Saturday and this coming Tuesday.

But he did not say when Tibet will reopen to overseas tourists.

Lhasa is recovering from the March 14 riot that was believed to have been organized, premeditated and masterminded by the Dalai Lama clique.

The unrest, involving violent crimes against people and property, led to the deaths of at least 18 innocent civilians and one police officer.

It also left 382 civilians and 241 police officers injured, businesses looted, and residences, shops and vehicles torched.

The regional government stopped issuing tourist permits to overseas travelers and the tourism authorities suggested travel agencies postpone organizing tour groups in the wake of the riot, citing safety concerns and reconstruction of tourism facilities around scenic spots damaged in the unrest.

Independent domestic travelers have not been prohibited from entering the region.

Tibet's architectural icon, the Potala Palace in Lhasa, re-opened to tourists on March 26.

Tubdain Cewang, vice chairman of the Standing Committee of the Tibet Autonomous Regional People's Congress, has said Lhasa's monasteries were recovering from the riot, with religious activities returning to order, and would reopen to tourists in the near future.

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