Beijing: China will develop Tibet`s picturesque Nyingchi prefecture, located close to Arunachal Pradesh border, into a major tourist hub with an investment of USD 63.5 million which included construction of 22 "well-off model villages".
More than CNY 400 million (USD 63.5 million) has been earmarked to develop tourism in "South eastern Tibet", by China`s southern Guangdong provincial government as partner assistance, official media here reported.
China refers Arunachal Pradesh as "Southern Tibet" which formed part of border dispute negotiations being held between Beijing and New Delhi.
"Nyingchi prefecture in southeastern Tibet, with abundant virgin forests, snow mountains, rivers and pastures, has potential golden tourism resources," state-run news agency Xinhua quoted an official in Tibet as saying yesterday.
Guangdong provincial government has designated four counties in Nyingchi prefecture to develop.
An international tourism town is planned for Nyingchi county in the prefecture, which is expected to attract investment of more than CNY two billion from government and enterprises, the official said.
Besides the tourism town project, 22 well-off model villages, each with an investment of CNY 4.5 million, will be built in three years to help local residents to provide family hotel services and increase their incomes, the official said.
Tibet in recent years has become a major tourism destination for mainland Chinese tourists.
In the first three months of this year, Tibet received 230,000 visitors, up 23.7 percent from a year earlier.
Tourism revenue in Tibet also rose 27.9 percent to reach CNY 229 million (about USD 37 million) during the period.
China has been pouring money into the development projects into the restive Tibet, which in the recent months witnessed about 40 suicides by Tibetans protesting heavy security controls as well as calls for the return of the Dalai Lama from exile.
A recent report said state-run Chinese banks have issued record high loans amounting to USD 8.22 billion in Tibet to spur regional development amid recurring suicides to protest the security restrictions in the Himalayan region.
By May, bank lending in Tibet had posted a consecutive month-on-month growth over the past 10 months, Xinhua said.
The banking authorities said banks in Tibet have been encouraged to lend to medium and small businesses, disadvantaged groups, infrastructure and development projects in rural areas.