Tourism is booming in Tibet as more Chinese travel in-country because of the coronavirus pandemic, and that’s posing risks to the region’s fragile environment and historic sites.
At the Potala Palace, the former home of the Dalai Lamas, the number of visitors is limited to 5,000 a day. Balancing tourist demand with the need to minimize wear and tear on the massive hillside structure is a constant challenge, said Gonggar Tashi, the head administrator.
Millions of visitors come to Tibet every year, with 2020 seeing a 12.6% increase from the previous year, according to Ge Lei, deputy director of the China Tourism Marketing Association.
Tibet has shifted its focus from international to domestic visitors as China’s middle class has grown, said Emily Yeh, a professor of geography at the University of Colorado Boulder.
Tibetans have at times complained about Chinese tourists disrespecting cultural traditions, including stepping on prayer flags, Yeh said.
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