Tourism en­tre­pre­neur ful­fills his dream on the high plateau

China Daily (Canada) - - TIBET - By PALDEN NY­IMA andDAQIONG in Lhasa

Ten years ago, Xu Bin was a 22-year-old stu­dent at the China Academy ofArt, mak­ing his very first trip to the Ti­bet au­ton­o­mous re­gion to com­plete a paint­ing pro­ject for school.

The trip by bus from his home in Northwest China’s Gansu prov­ince took more than 48 hours and he roughed it the rest of the way. “Trav­el­ing was a big chal­lenge as there was no rail­way ac­cess to Ti­bet in 2004, and I made my way across the whole re­gion by back­pack­ing, hitch­ing rides and trekking,” Xu said.

Two years af­ter that first trip, Xu shifted from a ca­reer as a painter to in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy. But his in­ter­est in Ti­bet stayed con­stant. He set out to es­tab­lish a tourism com­pany to bring oth­ers to the land of the high plateau, where the av­er­age al­ti­tude tow­ers above 4,000 me­ters.

With the world’s high­est moun­tain, the for­mi­da­ble Qo­molangma, known as Mount Everest in the West, and the vast Chang­tang grass­land, nearly as big as Western Europe in size, Ti­bet at­tracts vis­i­tors with its ex­tremes. It’s also home to more large an­i­mals than any­where else in China, in­clud­ing the Ti­betan an­te­lope, wild yak and Ti­betan brown bear.

In 2008, Xu founded the com­pany, Yun­d­uan Tourism De­vel­op­ment. A year later, his web­site cater­ing to in­de­pen­dent travel, www.haix­izang. came on­line to pro­vide ad­vice for trav­el­ers on where to eat, stay and see the sights.

Xu is tap­ping into a surge of in­ter­est in travel to Ti­bet and re­cent ef­forts by the cen­tral and the re­gional gov­ern­ments to turn Lhasa into a world­class tourism city.

Dur­ing the open­ing cer­e­mony of Ti­bet’s in­ter­na­tional tourism and cul­ture expo in Septem­ber, Li Shi­hong, deputy head of the China Na­tional Tourism Ad­min­is­tra­tion, stressed im­por­tance of

the nur­tur­ing Ti­betan tourism as an im­por­tant gate­way to South­west China.

“Tourism is one of Ti­bet’s pil­lar in­dus­tries and ac­counts for 20 per­cent of the re­gion’s eco­nomic con­tri­bu­tion, and it has be­come the main chan­nel of Ti­bet’s open­ing up,” Li said.

Xu en­joys work­ing in Ti­bet, and he trav­els fre­quently be­tween the re­gion and other provinces. “I can con­cen­trate on work in Ti­bet. I love the sun­shine there. I al­ways miss Ti­bet when I am­not there,” Xu said.

To cater to tourists, Xu opened a self-de­signed hos­tel. He spent a year on the de­sign, and three years on the in­te­rior decor.

“I tried to run a hos­tel 10 years ago. I tasted many fail­ures due to in­ex­pe­ri­ence,” Xu said. “Find­ing a house is not easy. I wanted to find an old house with sense of de­sign.”

Xu’s friend Meng Fan­hua said the timeXu spent per­fect­ing the com­fort­able hos­tel was worth the wait. “The hos­tel is an old house with all walls painted white and the orig­i­nal fig­ures pre­served,” Meng said. “It just feels like ren­o­va­tion mixed with mod­ern pat­terns.”

As Xu of­ten trav­els, he re­lies on his trusted em­ploy­ees to keep the busi­nesses run­ning smoothly.

“He is am­bi­tious and an ideas man, a man we want to learn many things from,” said Gu Zhi­gang, 45, gen­eral man­ager of the tourism com­pany. “He is good boss, be­cause he doesn’t only thinks to make a for­tune for him­self. He sup­ports the mem­bers of his staff by pay­ing their in­sur­ance con­tri­bu­tions.”

Xu re­mains am­bi­tious. Next, he plans to cre­ate a self­driv­ing tour club in Lhasa.

“I have never thought about suc­cess and fail­ure be­fore a new thing was started. I just wanted to do a good job with the work in my hands,” Xu said. “It’s not only about mak­ing money. Do­ing a good job is im­por­tant as well.”

Con­tact the writ­ers at palden _ny­ima@chi­nadaily.

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