Port open­ing ex­pected to boost Gyirong tourism

China Daily (Canada) - - TIBET - ByPALDEN NY­IMA and PHUNTSOG TASHI in Gyirong, Ti­bet

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

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