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Monday, Oct 21, 2019

China bans foreign tourists from visiting Tibet until April

There was no formal announcement of the closure by the government but travel agencies operating in Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) said that foreigners planning to visit the region should come before April 1, citing permit restrictions.

world Updated: Feb 20, 2019 16:52 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Beijing, Hindustan Times
Access to the Himalayan region – one of the biggest provinces of China – is almost always restricted with special permits required to visit.
Access to the Himalayan region – one of the biggest provinces of China – is almost always restricted with special permits required to visit.(Reuters file photo)
         

Foreign tourists will not be allowed to visit Tibet until April 1, rights groups and tour operators have said with the government tightening security ahead of the 60th anniversary of 1959’s abortive uprising against Beijing coming up on March 10.

There was no formal announcement of the closure by the government but travel agencies operating in Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) said that foreigners planning to visit the region should come before April 1, citing permit restrictions.

“For foreign travelers who want to travel in Tibet, we would suggest you begin the Tibet trip no earlier than April 1 because of the Tibet permits restriction policy recently. If your travel destination covers Kailash and Lake Mansarovar, you’d better enterTibet no earlier than April 17,” the Visit Tibet travel agency said on its website.

Access to the Himalayan region – one of the biggest provinces of China – is almost always restricted with special permits required to visit it; diplomats and foreign journalists are banned from visiting Tibet without government permission and handlers.

Rights groups say there is more security in Tibet this year as March 10 will be the 60th anniversary of the uprising against the government.

It was during 1959 that Tibetan spiritual leader, Dalai Lama – branded as a separatist by the Communist party – escaped to India, impacting bilateral ties between Beijing and New Delhi.

“Every year since 2008, the TAR has been closed off to tourists for at least one month, coinciding with the anniversary of the March 10 Uprising in 1959 and protests in 2008. In 2018, authorities closed the TAR to foreigners from February 10 to April 1,” the Washington-based International Campaign for Tibet said in a statement.

The group said the ongoing ban on foreign tourists is part of the overall policy of the Chinese government to restrict access to Tibet for independent observers.

On its part, Beijing this year marks the “60th anniversary of democratic reforms in the region”. The government recently said it has taken a “clear-cut” stance against separatism, allegedly incited by the India-based Dalai Lama.

China’s TAR has taken a stance against the Dalai Lama clique and resolutely safeguarded national security and core interests, a top Tibetan official said in January.

“Tibet has firmly curbed and cracked down on secession, infiltration and sabotage activities by hostile forces at home and abroad,” Qizhala, chairperson of the regional government, said in a work report released last month.

Qizhala said the region has taken resolute measures to safeguard the stability of the region on certain occasions and strengthened social management governance across the region.

The region received more than 30 million tourists, majority from within the country, last year.

First Published: Feb 20, 2019 16:51 IST

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