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Lhasa tourism booms Jan-Aug

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-09-12 19:56

LHASA - Lhasa, capital of Southwest China's Tibet autonomous region, witnessed a tourism boom in the first eight months of the year, with tourist numbers rising 19.6 percent year on year, local authorities said on Thursday.

Renowned as the "sun city," Lhasa received 6.08 million tourists in the January-August period, the city's tourism bureau said in a statement. The boom brought in 5.6 billion yuan in tourism revenue, an annual increase of 23.4 percent, it said.

The city has set a target of attracting 7.8 million tourists for the whole of 2013.

As the peak travel season began in summer with the kick-off of traditional festivals, visitors from home and abroad flocked to the city's major tourist destinations, including the Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple and Namtso Lake.

The week-long Shoton Festival, also known as the Yogurt Banquet Festival, in early August alone, attracted a record-high 1.38 million tourists from home and abroad and brought in an income of 285 million yuan.

The Shoton Festival dates back to the 11th century and was originally a religious occasion, when local people would offer yogurt to monks who had finished their meditation retreats.

Since the 17th century, the festival has become a celebration featuring both religious rituals and civil entertainment. It is now considered one of the most important festivals on the Tibetan calendar.

The city is now bracing for the National Day holiday in the first week of October, the last peak travel period of the year, as local travel agencies are reporting a surge in travel and hotel bookings.