China closes Tibet to foreign tourists

Chinese authorities closed Tibet to foreign visitors, announced travel agencies on Wednesday, June 6, ten days after the self-immolation of two Tibetans in Lhasa.

This happened just after the Saga Dawa festival begun, which celebrates the birth of Buddha in the Tibetan calendar. Traditionally there will be an influx of tourists to the Himalayan region.

China closes Tibet occasionally. The region has been under close supervision since the outbreak of anti-Chinese violence in March 2008. After the riots, foreign tourists were banned from traveling to Tibet for over a year. When foreigners are allowed to get there, they need a special permit and have to travel in group.

Since March 2011, thirty-seven Tibetans sacrificed themselves by immolation or tried to do so in Tibetan areas of neighboring Chinese provinces. On May 27, for the first time, two Tibetans set themselves on fire in Lhasa.