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Tibet again open to foreign tourists, Xinhua says.

BEIJING, April 5 Kyodo

Foreign tourists are again free to visit Tibet, the official Xinhua News Agency reported from the regional capital Lhasa on Sunday.

It said a group of 11 German tourists arrived in Lhasa on Saturday night and 25 other foreigners were to arrive Sunday, the first overseas visitors allowed into Tibet since trips were suspended in March.

The news agency, quoting the Tibet Autonomous Regional Tourism Bureau, said as many as 500 foreigners, in more than 200 groups, are to visit before April 20.

It added that ''long lines of tourists'' could be seen Sunday at the entrance to the popular Potala Palace.

''We are receiving more foreign tourists now than any other time since March 14 last year,'' Xinhua quoted Liu Mingzan, manager of the Tibet Qamdo International Travel Agency, as saying.

Independence demonstrations, some violent, erupted in Lhasa, other parts of Tibet and areas bordering Tibet in March 2008, prompting a suspension of travel to the region that was later lifted.

The bans were renewed last month ahead of the anniversary of last year's demonstrations and of the failed independence uprising in 1959 that led to the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama and many of his followers fleeing to India.

China said a week ago it would reopen Tibet to foreign travelers soon.

Xinhua quoted Bachug, head of the tourism administration of the Tibet Autonomous Region, as saying foreign visitors had been banned for their own safety.

''(But) Tibet is harmonious and safe now. Travel agencies, tourist resorts and hotels are prepared for tourists,'' he said.
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Publication:Asian Political News
Geographic Code:9CHIN
Date:Apr 6, 2009
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