Nyingtri, 320 kms southeast of the Tibetan capital Lhasa
DHARAMSHALA, June 24: China has announced plans to invest 400 million yuan (US $63.5 million) to develop tourism in southeastern Tibet by building 22 model villages.
Chinese official Xinhua News Agency said Saturday that the multi-million dollar plan has been earmarked for Nyingtri, 320 kms southeast of the Tibetan capital Lhasa, a place abundant with “virgin forests, snow mountains, rivers and pastures.”
The report quoted officials as saying that the development of the international tourist destination is expected to attract investment of more than 2 billion yuan from government and enterprises.
“Besides the tourism town project, 22 well-off model villages, each with an investment of 4.5 million yuan, will be built in three years to help local residents to provide family hotel services and increase their own incomes,” officials were quoted as saying.
Guangdong province in southern China is “partnering” the region in developing tourism.
Continued anti-China protests in Tibet have forced officials in Beijing to regularly close the entire region to tourism and outside visitors. In the first six months of this year alone, China cut-off Tibet twice after fears of unrest.
In the ongoing wave of self-immolations inside Tibet, 41 Tibetans have set their bodies on fire since 2009 demanding the return of Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama from exile and freedom in Tibet.
In statistics released by Chinese state railway company last month, more than 49 million people have travelled on the Gormo-Lhasa railway since the route opened in July 2006.
A political project, as stated by China’s former president Jiang Zemin, the rail line is meant to consolidate a strong Chinese presence in Tibet by accelerating Han migration into Tibet.
As a direct impact of the railways, the population of Tibet’s ancient capital city of Lhasa which used to be 50-60,000 soared to 300,000 of which 200,000 were Han Chinese immigrants.
The Dharamshala based Central Tibetan Administration has accused China of sidelining Tibetans and endangering the fragile region's environment.
CTA has said Beijing should stop dictating and give Tibetans a say in how the high plateau region is developed.
Tibetans have pointed out that China has been carrying out large scale exploitation of the highland plateau’s resources in the name of economic development which do not actually benefit Tibetan people.