Port opening expected to boost Gyirong tourism
The recently opened China Gyirong-Nepal Rasuwa Bilateral Port will not only boost trade in Tibet’s Gyirong county, but will also be a boon to the tourism and transportation industries, local officials said.
Gyirong county has been called a garden hidden behind Mount Qomolangma (known as Mount Everest in the West). The county is home to primeval forests, snowcapped mountains and numerous glaciers and historical sites.
Besides being an impressive destination on its own, it borders Pokhara, one of the most scenic places in neighboring Nepal.
“Gyirong offers great opportunities for tourism right now, and we look forward to welcoming more foreign tourists in the future,” said Zhang Hongbo, deputy Party secretary of Tibet’s Xigaze prefecture.
Zhang said that if the central government gives permission for the port to open to third countries in the first half of 2015, it would be great for foreign tourism.
Local government officials expect the port to link the Chinese mainland tourism market with South Asian countries, and anticipate that tourism focused on the Himalaya Mountains could boost tourism to all of Tibet.
“We will try to turn Gyirong into an advanced county known as a tourist destination,” said Phakdrub, the county Party secretary of Gyirong.
Local residents are also excited by the prospect of increased tourism. Visited Gyirong this year. The opening of the port is expected to boost this number.
Drudrak operates a Tibetan restaurant, homestay and bar in Gyirong township.
Four years ago, he moved to Gyirong from Khasa Port because he believed the town had greater potential for business.
He said he was immediately taken by the charming natural environment, and decided to settle in Gyirong in the hopes that its growing tourist trade would prove lucky for him.
Nepalese businessman Mimar moved to Gyirong with his wife eight years ago, and his business has grown from a small carpet shop to a trading company.
“My business is good and I have plans to operate a homestay and a restaurant in the next few years as our town welcomes more tourists,” he said.
“Tibet’s Xigaze prefecture welcomed 3.1 million tourists this year, including 70,000 foreigners,” Zhang said. “Tourist revenue for the first half of the year surpassed $130 million.”
Data show that Gyirong county hosted 5,700 foreign tourists this year, and the annual number of tourists to Pokhara is about 70,000.
“In the wake of the port’s opening in Gyirong, we expect to greatly increase that figure in our county by attracting tourists from Nepal,” Phakdrub said.
Gyirong means “comfortable village” and was given the name by Padmasambhava, an Indian Buddhist master in the 8th century, when he was invited to Tibet to teach Buddhism by Trisong Detsen — the 38th Tibetan emperor.
Gyirong valley has been the only passable land connecting Tibet and Nepal dating back to the Tang Dynasty (618907 AD) and is a key channel for China to link with South Asian countries.
Historical events that have taken place in the valley include the marriage of the Nepalese Princess Bhrikuti to Tibetan King Songtsan Gampo in the 7th century, the journey of the ambassador from the Tang Dynasty to India and the crossing of Indian Buddhist master Padmasambhava to Tibet. Contact the writers at palden_nyima@ chinadaily.com.cn and daqiong@ chinadaily.com.cn