Lhasa welcomes 6.5 mln tourists in 2012

LHASA, Jan. 23 (Xinhua) -- Lhasa, capital of southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, received 6.5 million tourists in 2012, regional tourism authorities revealed on Wednesday.

Renowned as the "sun city," Lhasa has seen a 26.5-percent year-on-year increase in tourist arrivals from home and abroad in 2012, according to the regional department of tourism.

In 2012, booming tourism brought the city an income of 6.55 billion yuan(about 1.43 billion U.S. dollars), a 28.12-percent year-on-year increase.

Traditional Tibetan festivals attracted tourists to the plateau capital to enjoy its unique customs and natural scenery, said Wang Ping, deputy director with the regional department of tourism.

For last year's Shoton (Yogurt) Festival alone, Lhasa received over one million tourists, bringing an income of 306 million yuan.

The Shoton Festival, which literally means "yogurt banquet festival," is one of the most important festivals for Tibetans. It dates back to the 11th century when it began as a religious occasion for local residents to offer yogurt to monks who had finished their meditation retreats.

In 2013, Lhasa tourism authorities will strive to ensure the city's fast development as a tourist destination, targeting 7.8 million tourist arrivals, according to Wang.


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