| Global Times | 2012-6-19 0:45:02
By Wen Ya
Many local Tibetans are celebrating after an 11th-hour decision to ground plans to develop a sacred lake into a tourist attraction.
A tour company had already bought and launched a tour boat on Yamdrok Lake and was planning to offer rides around the lake, where motorized vessels are prohibited, beginning next month.
A staffer from a tourism company in the Tibet Autonomous Region told the Global Times yesterday that it's plan to provide boat rides on the lake has been scuttled by the Shannan Prefecture Government.
"The reasons for canceling the tour boat are very complicated. Its mainly to protect the local environment," a man surnamed Feng from Qomolangma Tourism Development Company (QTDC) told the Global Times yesterday, refusing to provide further details.
Yamdrok Lake, about 100 kilometers from Lhasa, is one of three holy lakes in Tibet. Every year thousands of Tibetans make a pilgrimage to the lake. In recent years, the lake's natural beauty has also attracted flocks of tourists from all over the world.
On Sunday, the prefecture ordered Langkazi county to immediately halt its tourism development program, which included setting up over 200 beach umbrellas on the shore of the lake, chinatibetnews.com reported.
Locals are hailing the cancelation of the program as a victory for the online movement that opposed turning the lake into a kitschy tourist area.
On May 24, the tour company and the Langkazi county government launched a tour boat named Qomolangma, which immediately began trial runs. The plan had been in the making since last year and the tour company had bought the Qomolangma and other boats from inland districts in China, according to Dawa, chairman of the board from QTDC.
The prefecture, which governs the county, said Sunday the tourism program was not permitted and that it would call those people and institutions that made the plan into account, chinatibetnews.com reported yesterday.
The prefecture also reiterated that tourism projects would not be allowed around the lake, which has the highest rated water quality, the website reported.
The tourist development plan had been strongly criticized by Web users around the country who saw the tour boats and beach umbrellas as an insult to the lake's heritage and a potential source of pollution.
They called the cancelation of the tourism plan "a victory of the public."
"When I heard the news I was full of tears. Thanks for the power of the Internet and media," Yangerchenamu, a famous Mosuo ethnic group singer, wrote on her Sina Weibo yesterday.
"Many people have strong feelings for the lake and they don't want to see beach chairs on its shores."
"Tibetans have protected the purity of the lake for generations. The lake shouldn't be stained for commercial purposes," Zhang Silai, a Beijing office worker, told the Global Times yesterday.
Even some of those who work in tourism in Tibet approved of the cancelation.
Lazhen, a 27-year-old Tibetan tour guide in Lhasa, said many tourists would likely have been drawn to the lake if the plan had gone through.
"It would not have been good for the lake nor respectful of the pilgrims." Lazhen told the Global Times yesterday.
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