Tibet Reverses Earlier Decision to Welcome the Return of Tourists

Earlier this week Tibet was on track to begin welcoming visitors back to the country, after deadly clashes between Tibetan protestors and the Chinese government in Lhasa, the Tibetan capital, brought tourism to a grinding halt. It is now reported that Tibetan authorities have reversed the decision to reopen the region to foreign tourists, beginning May 1. The Tibetan Tourism Bureau is coming out in opposition to providing visas for visitors at this time, citing concerns that the Olympics torch relay to the summit of Mount Everest will ignite further violent protest. The torch is scheduled to return to mainland China at the beginning of May and continue through many Chinese cities, including Lhasa, in mid June.

The decision to keep Tibet closed coincides with the announcement that the Chinese government foiled a major radical Muslim terrorist plot to disrupt the Summer Olympics in Beijing this August, a threat that included poison gas and suicide bombers. The report from China is being met with skepticism by some governments, particularly Australia, although the arrests are sure to make Beijing-bound Olympics attendees uneasy.