Tibetan region in Sichuan opens to foreign tourists


CHENGDU – Four major natural attractions in the Aba Autonomous Prefecture of Tibetan and Qiang Nationalities in the southwestern Sichuan Province began to receive foreign tourists over the May Day holiday, which started on May 1.

The Jiuzhaigou Scenic Area, Huanglong Scenic Area and the Wolong National Nature Reserve, all of which are World Natural Heritage sites, as well as a new site at the Dagu glacier, were opened to foreign tourists on Thursday, a prefectural tourism bureau official said.

The four attractions received 56,800 tourists in total on Thursday and Friday, of whom 2,266 were from overseas, the official said.

The tourism industry came to a standstill after innocent civilians and more than 200 government personnel and police were injured and 24 shops and 81 vehicles were set alight in the March 16 riot in the prefecture.

“The number of tourists was less than half of last year,” the official said. “But it’s getting back on track.”

“The water color of Jiuzhaigou is amazing,” said Brian O’Connell of Ireland, who visited the area on Friday with his wife.

A group of reporters from Taiwan’s ETTV were also filming in the scenic area on Friday.

In the Wolong Giant Panda Reserve Center, tourists were saying farewell to eight pandas who will go to Beijing for the Olympics on May 24.

The prefecture received 8.81 million tourists in 2007, including 454,000 from overseas. It gained 7.4 billion yuan (1.06 billion U.S. dollars) in revenues.