Tibet will impose a restriction on the number of visitors in 2016 to protect the fragile environment from the impact caused by the ever-growing tourists. In light of the announcement, if Tibet is on your list, a visit well before the restriction taken into effect saves big.
Potala Palace remains one of the must-visit attractions to world travelers.
In May 2015, the Tibet government planned to replace the existing tourist vehicles with brand-new ones to reinforce the management of tourism resources in the official hands. According to officials, the act will effectively reorganize the once chaotic tourist road transfer system, and also lower safety concerns of visitors to some extent. The downside of the implementation, however, is travelers will see travel prices double.
"The goal is to reduce tourist number and restrict the level of tourist activity, as the environment is already taking immense pressure," explained Eric Huang, Odyssey local operating manager." There is an increase of 2 million visitors to Tibet year on year. The government expects to be receiving 15 million tourists by 2015, namely, more than 40, 000 visitors a day on average."
This situation, definitely, promotes development in job-creating, but it also brings severe long-term environmental problems in the foreseeable future: tourism resources being overexploited and mountains of trash left. Tibet government is realizing that mass tourism provides no help to the ecological environment. Therefore, in addition to the current regulation that inbound tourists must be on a tour package to enter Tibet, a restriction on visitor number via raising the threshold of travel budget will take center stage as well.
Priests in Sera Monastery
Tibet is not the first destination that forges a new tourist path. Its close neighbor, Bhutan, has been disallowing independent travelers since 1991 for the purpose of preserving the unique culture. As a result, this small country successfully remains isolated and undisturbed from mass tourism, so is the life of people there.
Inspired by Bhutan, Tibet is following suit in hopes of protecting its land and culture.
Specific items of the upcoming policy will be rolled out between September and October 2015, while what stands clear is that 2015 seems to be the last chance inbound visitors enjoy the good value of a Tibet trip, at least in terms of cost.