Developments in Tibet's Tourism
Director of China National Tourism Office - Madrid
I. The basic situation and features in Tibetan Tourism Development
1. The basic situation
Tibetan tourism industry featured in snow-covered plateau is full of unique charms. Countless domestic and foreign tourists are eager to travel to Tibet. However, before the peaceful liberation of Tibet in 1951, there was no tourism industry there. Tibet tourism started in 1980s. Thirty years later, Tibetan tourism industry has developed from nothing and expanded from small to large. And it is the first to achieve great-leap-forward development among the local industries, and has become the pillar industry to promote economic leap-forward development of China's Tibet autonomous region.
During the eleventh five year plan, Tibet totally received 21.25 million tourists from home and abroad with an annual increase of 30.6%, of which 0.991 million are foreign tourists, 20.259 million are domestic ones. The total revenue of tourism amounted to 22.62 billion RMB with a 29.8% annul increase. Compare with the total number of tourists and revenue in 2005, Tibet totally received 68.5 million tourists from home and abroad in 2010, 3.8 times as much as that of 2005. And the total revenue was 7.14 billion RMB, 3.7 times as much as that of 2005.
2. Features of Tibet tourism development
① The scale of tourism development has been expanded.
During the eleventh five-year-plan period (2005—2010), the autonomous region owned 173 star-rated hotels, 1165 non star hotels, and 315 star-rated family hotels with a total of more than 80 thousand beds. And there were 2947 Designated Reception Vehicles for tourism. The number of tourist sites in Tibet open to the public has amounted to 297, including 28 A-Level scenic spots, 17 national and autonomous-level scenic spots, six national nature reserves, two national geological parks, and one China's Excellent Tourism City. Our tourism market has developed from a single type receiving only foreign guests to the sophistication covering three large tourism resources, namely, inbound, outbound and home travelers.
The number of travel agencies in the autonomous region has reached 102. And the total value of industrial fixed assets was 12.638 billion RMB. The tourism industry directly employed 4.38 million people and indirectly employed 18.8 million people. And it provided more than 3,000 jobs each year. Tourism has made its contribution to job enlargement and the prosperity of the region and its people.
②Investment has been intensified and tourism infrastructure has seen accelerated development.
During the eleventh five year plan, with the guidance of national and regional party committee and the support of relevant departments, we have made a series of remarkable achievements. The Qinghai-Tibet Railway has been open to traffic as well as the Linzhi, Ali Airports. The Lhasa-Xigatse Railway has been under construction. The main travel roads have speeded up their upgradation. Four Lhasa- centred tourism circles are speeding up the process of asphalt coverage. The Ancient Tea Horse Road and Lashi Highway modification works are in full operation. Tourism planning is given high priority. Shangri-la eco-tourism area and tourism planning of the Qinghai-Tibet railway line have been completed, and we are also working on the detailed rules for natural areas（spots. The state has invested heavily in maintaining the key human attractions. A batch of intangible cultural heritages has been included into the national list.
③ The strategy for top-quality tourism has been put in place and Tibet's theme image for tourism has been taking shape.
During the eleventh five-year plan, in accordance with the Decision on Accelerating the Development of Tourism Industry released by the party committee and the government of Tibet Autonomous Region, Tibet endeavored to design sightseeing tours to snowy peaks and deep canyons, ecological tours to primeval forests and meadows, recreational tours to lakes and hot springs, folk culture tours featuring Tibetan culture to places of interest. And at the same time, Tibet exerted itself in designing folk festival tours which boosted the development of tourism in various places of Tibet Autonomous Region.
④ Management has been reinforced and service upgraded
During the eleventh five-year plan period, Tourism Administration Departments at all levels in the Tibet Autonomous Region took various practical and effective measures to reinforce the management in tourism industry: applying s tricter standards and rules to tour operators, supervising the Travel Industry Association, managing the tourism environment, strengthening the cooperation between each department in law enforcement and so on. And we obtained satisfactory results after taking all the above steps.
⑤ Rural tourism has vigorously developed, and Tibetan people have shaken off poverty started to get rich.
During the eleventh five-year plan, Tibet fully developed village tourism products including rural home inns, Tibetan home stay, and recreational resorts, amongst others. All these tourism products help town residents and people living in agricultural and pastoral areas to make profits from local tourism development. Currently, 12,029 households, all together 48,120 residents in agricultural and pastoral areas can provide tourists reception services, which brings in 294 million Yuan and each household earns an annual income of 24,474 Yuan on average, the annual income per capita is 6,118 Yuan. This lays a favorable foundation for the process of transforming the mode of production and ways of living in agricultural and pastoral areas, transferring the rural surplus labor force, increasing residents' cash income and lifting them out of poverty.
⑥ Tourism planning has been promoted, standardization and rule of law developed, and the overall tourism industry has been boosted.
During the eleventh five-year plan, we insisted on preplanning before act, stuck to industrial standards, managed the tourism industry according to laws and formulated a large number of plans and laws and regulations including The Eleventh Five -year Plan for the Development of Tibet's Tourism Industry, The Twelfth Five-year Plan for Infrastructure Development in Tibet's Tourism Industry, Standards for Evaluation of Rural Tourism, Regulation on Discretionary Power of Administrative Penalty by Tourism Administration of China's Tibet Autonomous Region as well as others.
II. Outlook on the development of Tibet's Tourism Industry during the twelfth five-year-plan period:
① Development strategy
We should stick to the development approach with Chinese characteristics as well as Tibetan features and entrench the idea of “To boost the tourism industry is to focus on the development, improve the opening-up and maintain harmony”. Our goal is to build Tibet into a world tourist destination with an excellent ecological environment, unique cultural characteristics and a civilized and harmonious society.
② Development principles
Our development principles are: the government should play the leading role; the tourism development should benefit the people; the development should be sustainable; the development should be of high quality and with unique characteristics; all governmental agencies should make joint efforts.
③ Development goals
During the twelfth five-year plan, we should transform our advantages in tourism products into economic ones, to develop tourism industry into a leading industry in empowering the local region and enrich residents as well as a pillar industry to help the whole region to achieve the great-leap-forward economic development, and to lay the solid foundation for building Tibet into a world tourist destination.
--To expand the scale of Tibet's tourism industry
During the twelfth five-year plan, we are going to fully implement the plan of multiplying the number of tourists visiting Tibet. We are trying to meet the target of receiving 15 million visitors each year, gaining 18 billion Yuan from tourism industry and create 300,000 jobs in tourism industry and related industries by 2015.
--To upgrade and strengthen Tibet's tourism industry
By 2015, we are going to meet the target of forming a orderly-developed tourism industry system backed by large and medium key enterprises, and a tourism market system with effective marketing, reasonable structure and leapfrog development.
--To improve the quality of development and to refine Tibet's tourism industry Tibet's goal is that by 2015, the value added of the tourism industry is to account for more than 50% of the service sector in Tibet and people working in tourism industry to account for more than 50% of people employed in service sector. Also, Tibet aims to develop high-end tourism and tourism of high quality, endeavoring to take the lead in Western China in the proportion of economic benefits from tourism industry in the total output value of the whole region.