On Tuesday, June 24, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao told reporters in Beijing that Tibet would not change the policy of opening-up. The regional government stopped issuing tourist permits to overseas travellers and the tourism authorities suggested travel agencies postpone organizing tour groups in the wake of the riots in March this year. It cited safety concerns and the reconstruction of tourism facilities around scenic spots damaged in the unrest.
Independent domestic travellers have not been prohibited from entering the region. The riot led to the deaths of at least 18 civilians and one policeman. It also left 382 civilians and 241 police officers injured, businesses looted and residences, shops and vehicles torched. Tibet received four million tourists from both home and abroad last year, up 60 percent from 2006. Tourism revenue reached 4.8 billion yuan (699 million dollars), accounting for more than 14 percent of the region's gross domestic product.
In the first two months of this year, the tourism business grew robustly in the region, greeting 110,000 tourists, including 6,000 from overseas, up 60 percent from the same period a year earlier. The March, April and May figures were not immediately available. Before the riot, the regional government had expected the number of visitors to increase by 25 percent year-on-year to hit five million in 2008, and tourism revenue to increase by 24 percent to reach six billion yuan (873 million dollars).