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Model villages created in Tibet to boost tourism

The Chinese government has announced plans to create model villages in Tibet to lure tourists, reportedly spending more than £40 million on the 22 model villages to boost tourism to the troubled region.

According to the official Xinhua News Agency, the villages will be situated in the picturesque region of Nyingchi County, which is around 200 miles from the Tibetan capital, Lhasa. This comes just weeks after China announced a ban on foreign visitors heading to the controversial region.

China is now attempting to expand the Tibetan economy in the hope of winning over ethnic residents. The government plan to make Nyingchi an international tourist destination, where local residents can earn money by providing hotels and services.

A number of Tibetans might oppose the idea, however, as citizens have accused the Chinese government of religious persecution and cultural assimilation in the name of economic development. Foreign tourists are currently banned from visiting Tibet following months of unrest and protests . Two Tibetans set themselves on fire in May as a mark of protest and a further 37 people have performed similar protests since March last year. This was the first time that self-immolation was attempted in the capital city, where many foreign tourists descend. It was this that sparked the ban on foreign visitors

This is not the first the time the Chinese government has imposed a foreign tourist ban. It has occurred before and often during periods of unrest of during religious festivals. It’s expected the ban could last until November, and as a result hundreds of British holidaymakers have been forced to cancel their trips to the region.

Anyone travelling to regions of unrest might wish to check the Foreign Office to make sure it is safe to do so. It is also a good idea to review your travel insurance  policy before departing.

Date Created: 26 June 2012

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