Lhasa losing business following anti-Chinese riots

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Lhasa July 11 : The March 14 incident at Lhasa that left the Tibet burning and claimed about 18 lives and injured hundreds, now seems to have affected businesses by more than 50 percent.

Lhasa that once played host to more than four million foreign and domestic visitors, nowadays wears a deserted look, that too during the peak tourism season.

The market around the Zokank Monastery where thousands of small and big shops are situated virtually has no customers.

Shopkeepers have even resorted to cutting down their prices by more than to 70 percent. Some shops have cut down on the number of employees to meet their daily expenses.

In March, a number of shops in Yangre Market were destroyed by the rampaging mob, and many small vendors had to leave their small business and take up daily jobs.

Leena, a Tibetan and the owner of a small stall that sells souvenirs, said that now she is facing hard times. She said that she was now selling off her products at prices that were 50 percent less. Li Sing, the owner of another stall that is near the monastery, said last year he had done seven digit worth of business during the same season, but in the wake of the anti-China riots and the resultant crackdown on Tibetans, his venture had gone into a deficit.

"I don't know whether I will be able to come out from this deficit," he moans in a fatalistic manner.

While talking to ANI on condition of anonymity, the owner of a large utensil shop here said that no businessman deserves or creates instability and violence. Rather, miscreants with political agendas were responsible for the disturbances of the past few months.

The business establishments are not the only ones to suffer. The region's hotel and transport industries too have been adversely affected.

Lun Fee, a taxi driver who has been running a taxi in Lhasa for the last six years, said that last year in July he earned 500 Yuan a day, but now was finding it difficult to survive. He said last month he was unable to earn even 200 Yuan a day.

He said there are more than 1300 taxis in Lhasa and he feared that without tourists, many taxi drivers could soon leave the profession.

Like others, he also condemned the violent protest, saying that the common man should not have been allowed to suffer like this.

It is difficult to get a hotel room in Lhasa during the season, and ironically this year hotels are being forced to offer large discounts to attract foreign tourists.

However, the Mayor of Lhasa, Xiao Ban, assured that life in Lhasa is now safe and normal.

He said law and order would take its own course insofar as dealing with those responsible for the anti-China disturbances. He confidently told both domestic and international tourists that there is nothing to worry about, and everyone is welcome to visit Lhasa.By Ravinder Singh Robin

ANI

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