Libmonster ID: UZ-746
Author(s) of the publication: ZHANG BI YU



Graduate student

ISAA of Lomonosov Moscow State University

Keywords: Tibet Autonomous Region, Chinese tourism industry, foreign and domestic tourism, religious tourism, language barrier

China's tourism industry, which originates mainly in the coastal provinces and in Beijing, is gaining momentum, covering all new regions of the country. Tourism is becoming a catalyst for the development of the economy and infrastructure of certain areas that were previously weak in economic terms.

Located in southwest China, Tibet is unique in many ways. Its historical relics, iconic architecture, paintings and folk culture are widely known. The tourism resources of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) can be divided into the following four categories:: a) landscape resources of the highlands; b) historical and cultural resources; c) religious and humanitarian resources; d) folklore resources.

For several centuries, Tibet was closed to foreigners. Much of the isolation was determined by the policies of both the Tibetan rulers and China. It was only in 1984 that Tibet was opened to residents of other parts of the country and foreigners. However, even now not all territories are open, and foreigners need a special permit to visit Tibet. In addition, due to the regular self-immolations of indigenous Tibetans protesting against the "occupation" of the central authorities, the Chinese government periodically imposes bans and restrictions on visiting Tibet during periods of increasing tension.

For decades (TAR was founded in 1965), Beijing has tried to develop the Tibetan economy in the hope of winning the favor of the indigenous population; however, a number of steps taken in this direction are criticized in the international community. Many Tibetans have accused and still accuse the government of religious persecution and cultural assimilation, although the real cause of discontent in some cases is precisely attempts at economic development in the region.

Nevertheless, despite all the difficulties and contradictions of the ongoing processes, two facts should be recognized. First , the Chinese Government is making huge efforts to develop the Tibet Autonomous Region by investing in many sectors of the economy, especially infrastructure. And secondly, Tibet has huge tourist resources, which are not fully used.


The state provides Tibet with assistance-money, construction equipment and personnel. Between 1984 and 1994, 43 construction projects in Tibet received government investment and assistance from 9 other provinces and cities in the amount of 480 million yuan*1. Between 1994 and 2001, government direct investment in 62 Tibetan projects totaled $ 4.86 billion. RMB. At the same time, 15 provinces and central ministries and committees invested $ 3.16 billion in 716 projects. RMB 2.

The 4th Meeting on Work in Tibet, convened by Beijing in 2001, adopted a resolution to further strengthen assistance to the region in its development. It was decided to allocate 31.2 billion tenge for the implementation of 117 TAR projects during the 10th five-year plan (2001-2005). RMB of public investment, allocate 37.9 billion yuan from the budget. RMB for subsidies. In addition, other provinces and cities in China have invested $ 1.06 billion in 71 Tibetan projects. RMB 3.

Over the past 10 years, more than 2 thousand personnel workers of various levels, as well as material and monetary resources worth $ 10.16 billion, have been sent to the TAP. RMB (excluding funds invested by the center in 117 Tibetan projects)4. Thanks to the assistance of the center and other provinces, the living conditions of the population have improved significantly, and the economic and social development of the district has accelerated markedly.

According to statistics, for almost 50 years since the formation of the TAR, the budget expenditures of the autonomous region amounted to 87.58 billion rubles. of this amount, 94.9% were subsidies from the central government.

For half a century, there has been a real leap in both the economic structure and statistical indicators of the Tibetan economy. If in 1965 the TAP's GDP was 327 million yuan, then in 2013 it increased to 80.2 billion yuan.5 Previously, there was no large-scale industry in Tibet at all, but now there are enterprises in 20 industries. Modern trade, tourism, postal services, public catering, and recreational services are rapidly developing,

* 1 US dollar equals approximately 6.1 yuan.

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information technologies. In old Tibet, there were no modern roads at all. And today there is a transport network, the backbone of which is formed by one state and 14 provincial highways with a total length of 41.3 thousand km6.

In October 2005, construction of the 1,080-kilometer Qinghai-Tibet Railway, the highest mountain railway in the world, was completed. In 2011, the first airline based in southwestern Tibet started operating. Currently, there are five airports on the territory of the TAR. In 2013, a road connection was opened in Moto County, which was known in China as the only one not covered by the road network. The first power unit of the Pondo hydroelectric power station was put into operation, providing electricity to the center of the district - the city of Lhasa. In 2013, the power grids of Sichuan Province and Tibet began to merge. Construction of the Lhasa-Shigatse railway will soon be completed.


In 2013, 12,910,000 tourists visited Tibet , up 20% from the previous year. There were 12,687,000 domestic tourists. (an increase of 22.1%), foreigners - 223 thousand (an increase of 14.5%). Tourism revenues totaled almost $ 16.5 billion. RMB, or 18% of the GDP of District 7. The number of travel agencies in the autonomous region has reached 102, and the total value of fixed assets of the tourism industry is 12.6 billion rubles. RMB.

According to the state plans, it is the tourism industry that should become the main branch of the autonomous region's economy. At the same time, Tibet will focus on the development of both foreign and domestic tourism. According to forecasts, in 2020 it will be visited by 380 thousand visitors. foreign and 15 million domestic tourists, and tourism revenues will amount to 20 billion rubles. RMB 8.

Despite the fact that tourism has already become an important sector of the Tibetan economy, it is still limited to three areas: cultural and religious tourism associated with the Tibetan monastic system; trekking and mountaineering; sightseeing - monasteries and landscapes, which attracts mainly Chinese tourists.

Meanwhile, the Tibetan landscape and culture make it possible to actively cultivate eco-tourism, which is currently almost undeveloped. From this perspective, the experience of Swiss mountain resorts is interesting, where tourists combine the opportunity to admire unique landscapes with sports, in particular alpine skiing. Swiss experts have already developed a model of Tibetan ecotourism, which promises to bring the tourism industry in TAR to a new international level and bring huge economic benefits to the region.

The question arises, however, by what forces will this task be solved? Here, high hopes are pinned on local villagers. The Tibetan village has changed a lot in recent years. Improvements in agricultural machinery and technology, as well as rising food prices, have led to the accumulation of capital and the emergence of a local stratum of entrepreneurs engaged in trade and tourism. However, these mostly young businessmen do not have much experience in the field of tourism.

Language barriers are also a huge problem when visitors from abroad communicate with Chinese and Chinese-with foreign tourists. The weak point in Tibetan tourism remains the issue of catering for guests. The problem is that not everyone likes the local cuisine, and even more so for foreign tourists. By the way, even many indigenous Tibetans are not very happy with local dishes and prefer traditional Chinese cuisine. In short, it is not an easy task to establish a good diet for a large mass of tourists in Tibet, although, of course, it can be solved.

Certain problems are caused by the fact that "intra-Chinese" tourism in Tibet differs significantly from international tourism according to the principles of the organization. Chinese tourism is mainly focused on sightseeing. This means that only places with famous scenic landscapes or interesting monuments, such as large monasteries, can attract tourists from different provinces of the PRC. But the mountain peaks of Tibet do not attract them much.

Foreign tourism has its own peculiarities. Many tourists go to Tibet solely to visit monasteries. Some would like to stay in a chosen monastery for weeks or months to get a more complete education-

page 45

an introduction to the local religion and culture.

The main obstacle to establishing a trusting relationship with guests is often the problem of language. There are monks in monasteries who speak decent Chinese, but knowledge of other foreign languages is quite rare. Increasing the number of English-speaking guides in monasteries can certainly contribute to better use of the tourist potential.


If almost everyone has heard about Tibetan Buddhism and Tibetan monasteries (and they are really very interesting and play an important role in the local culture), then most tourists know little about the local mountains. And if they do, they use highly distorted information - most Western media focus on the" ferocity " of the Himalayas. Meanwhile, high mountains are not deadly, and this is not all of Tibet. Most of the Tibetan territory consists of high plains and hills.9

The vast majority of Tibetan areas are quite accessible to people in moderately good physical health. These are places for exciting walks, where you can admire the beautiful scenery and enjoy the cleanest air. There are also opportunities to create beautiful ski resorts with a developed infrastructure over time, although this will require multi-billion dollar investments (which, if well set up, will certainly pay off).

Although in most Tibetan areas the winter is very dry and there is not enough snow for skiing, however, as the experience of some Eastern European countries shows, investing in the equipment of ski resorts can bring benefits even where climatic conditions do not allow skiing throughout the year. This experience is worth studying, and it may be useful when creating ski tourism centers in Tibet.

However, it is already possible to create hiking trails in the TAR with appropriate markers and designations. It is only necessary to organize the publication of maps for hikers. The use of smartphones that combine topographical information with GPS data also offers great opportunities. Of course, such trips should be carried out under the strict control of the services responsible for the safety of movement along the fixed routes of tourist groups and individual tourists.

The problem, at first glance, is not too complicated, but it, alas, has not yet been solved. Now, even in developed tourist areas in Tibet, it is not so easy to go on a mountain excursion, as it is not easy to find and hire a guide. Existing hiking trails tend to be short and crowded in summer. They do not satisfy Western tourists, who are used to having a large selection of short and long routes, not meeting other vacationers every ten minutes and being able to travel without a local guide.

Such tourism can be a valuable source of income for local residents. But this is more difficult in Tibet.

First of all, there are few places to eat, and besides, food is served hot, and it is problematic to take it with you on the road. Tibetans are very hospitable and would be happy to welcome tourists to their homes, but there are a number of obstacles to this. Here, for example, it is not customary to ask for money for food, and it is "expensive"to feed tourists for free for local families. The language barrier also creates significant problems.

However, these problems can be solved. You can organize courses in "simplified" English, which is necessary only for tourist communication, for local residents, and develop and try to implement a certain "standard menu" with small fixed prices.


Another form of recreation in Tibet could be bicycle tourism; however, this requires specially equipped mountain bikes. These are made in China, but they are not used in Tibet. In addition, the use of such bicycles requires a certain, although relatively simple, infrastructure. The fact is that cyclists need to be taken high up in the mountains, from where they could descend along the serpentine mountain roads. This does not require expensive cable cars - just buses and minibuses that can take you to the airport.-

page 46

mi again could be managed by local residents. This type of outdoor activity is sure to be attractive to many Western and Chinese tourists alike.

In Europe, scooter skiing is becoming an increasingly popular sport and outdoor activity - almost unheard of in Tibet. Special scooter designs have been developed for ski resorts. To take them to the hills, they often "invite" dogs, of which there are many in Tibet: they are used for grazing sheep and yaks and to protect livestock from wolves. And, really, it is not so difficult to train Tibetan dogs in new skills, to make them helpers of tourists.

Another relatively new type of tourist transport and entertainment is quad bikes. Although in the vicinity of monasteries and in Tibetan cities, these noisy carts are unlikely to be met with approval. But there are many sparsely populated places in the country where you can organize ATV tours, and they will certainly find their adherents too. There will be no problems with their drivers: the "related" mode of transport - motorcycles-is common in Tibet, especially among pastoralists, and some of them will take on the transport of tourists on ATVs.

Horse riding is also popular in Tibet: horses are still the main means of transportation in some areas. Horse racing is an important part of Tibetan culture. And it is important, in my opinion, to note that horse trips will help establish contacts between foreigners and the local population, better knowledge and understanding of tourists of many difficult problems of this area of China.

In world tourism, rafting on mountain rivers by kayak and canoe is becoming increasingly widespread, and, especially, rafting-traveling on rough rapid rivers in large boats. Interestingly, in Tibet, this method of river travel was once quite common, but with the advent of modern modes of transport, it has practically disappeared.10

There are places suitable for rafting in Tibet, it's up to you to purchase the necessary "floating equipment" - high-strength inflatable boats and train professional instructors who can ensure the safety of this type of entertainment and sport associated with certain risks. Similarly, you need good instructors for another sport that might attract tourists to Tibet - rock climbing. They, alas, will have to be prepared "from scratch" - local residents have never done anything like this.

There are many opportunities for extreme sports in Tibet, but you need to be very careful when exploring them. There is not even a rudimentary rescue and medical infrastructure here, but it has yet to be created.


Tibet may well become not only a classic tourist destination, but also a health and wellness center. Traditional Tibetan medicine is widely known all over the world and is in great demand in Western countries. However, these truly huge opportunities for the development of health tourism have not yet been properly developed. Tibet is probably the best place in China to explore this "tourist virgin land".

Tibetan monks have accumulated vast experience in treating various diseases using traditional medicine techniques. However, there have never been any attempts to create a comprehensive Tibetan medicine center with high standards of accommodation and service. Those who could take part in the creation of such a center do not cooperate yet. It will take time for local and central authorities to get around to solving this complex and complex task.

From the point of view of marketing, the problems of tourism development in Tibet can be grouped into the following groups: establishing coordination of the activities of all stakeholders; branding and positioning of the main objects and directions of tourist infrastructure; implementing the concept of so-called sustainable tourism, i.e. developing and ensuring the implementation of long-term plans in this area.

It is crucial that these plans are approved by the majority of indigenous Tibetans.

I also believe that future Tibetan tourism centers and resorts should not be classified as expensive and fashionable, like, for example, the French Cote d'Azur or the Swiss Alps. The Tibetan area offers tourists a greater variety of leisure activities than most Western European resorts. Therefore, many types of tourism can co-exist here without interfering with each other, and they can be introduced and mastered gradually. It seems that initially it is necessary to build up the infrastructure for mid-price tourism, and then strive for higher-class tourism.

* * *

It follows from the above: there are all prerequisites for Tibet to become one of the most popular holiday destinations in the world in the foreseeable future, not only for Chinese people, but also for tourists from all over the world.

Zhou Xinchen. 1 Economic reform in China: achievements and challenges. Beijing, 2010, pp. 125-127 (in Chinese).

2 Ibid., p. 129.

Xong Wan. 3 Modern problems of Tibet and the search for ways to solve them. Beijing, 2011, pp. 21-22.

Wang Xiang. 4 Tibet as a new area of tourism / / Tourism of China. Beijing, 2011, pp. 35-36 (in Chinese).

5 Tibet Autonomous Region. Statistical bulletin. Beijing, 2014, pp. 46-49 (in Chinese).

6 Tibet Autonomous Region. Industry Review 2013. Beijing, 2013, p. 21 (in Chinese).

7 Yearbook of Chinese Tourism 2012. Beijing, 2013, pp. 81-82 (in Chinese).

Zang Feng. 8 Tourism in the Eastern region. Beijing, 2012, p. 11 (in Chinese).

Lam Tsen. 9 Creating an image in tourism. Beijing, 2011, p. 18 (in Chinese).

10 Turisticheskie resursy Tibeta i ikh ispol'zovanie [Tourist resources of Tibet and their use]. Beijing, 2012, pp. 12-13 (in Chinese).


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ZHANG BI YU, TOURISM IN THE ECONOMY OF THE TIBET AUTONOMOUS REGION // Tashkent: Library of Uzbekistan (BIBLIO.UZ). Updated: 05.11.2023. URL: (date of access: 28.05.2024).

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