For Nicoll Francis, a Belgian
customs official, his visit to Tibet has been one of the most
unforgettable of his life. As one of 100 photographers invited by
the China Photographers Association (CPA) and Tibet Information
Office, he arrived on June 28 and began what he called the "most
He said the tour, "Tibet in the Eyes
of 100 Photographers,"comprised amateur and professional
photographers from home and abroad, divided into four groups and
sent to different parts of the region to experience the true Tibet
for themselves and tell the world of their impressions through
their camera lens.
"I had watched many documentaries
about Tibet, mostly French and German, before I came to China, so I
thought I knew a lot about it. But now that I'm here, I'm very
surprised at what I have seen here. Lhasa is much more modern than
I thought,"said Francis, who had just said goodbye to a lama he had
met on the square in front of Jokhang Monastery in Lhasa, capital
of southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region.
"Everyday there is a new surprise
waiting for me. This is really a great place with great
people,"said Francis, "I just chatted with a lama who could speak
some simple English. He said I'm very tall and greeted me. Although
we didn't really understand each other very much, from his smile
and eyes and facial expressions, I knew he was as interested in me
as I was in him."
He said that, after they return to
Beijing, the CPA will choose pictures taken by them for publication
in a book. "I can also send my pictures to other international
exhibitions after the CPA returns them to us."
When asked what impressed him most,
Francis answered, "Everything here is interesting, like the great
scenery and landscape, but I am really impressed with the smiles of
Tibetans, very pure and simple. I took many pictures of Tibetan
people, women, children, the pious prostrating themselves before
monasteries and lamas walking on the street."
His sentiments were echoed by
Francesa Mole, a high school teacher from Italy. "I am amazed at
what I have seen here,"said Mole, taking a rest on Potala Place
square with her companion. "We planned this tour for a very long
time; I read a lot in books and on the Internet. Tibet was much
poorer than this in my imagination.
"What worried me most before I came
were transport conditions, but it was unnecessary. I just returned
from Nam Co Lake, very beautiful, we enjoyed the trip very much. I
think I have a lot to share with my students when I return to
According to the local government,
Tibet received 1.22 million tourists last year from both home and
abroad. Of them, 95,800 were foreign tourists, bringing a total
tourist income of 1.5 billion yuan (US$181 million).
On April 3, the biggest overseas
tourist group in Tibet's history arrived in Lhasa, the first batch
of 107 Austrian tourists.
With rich tourist resources,
visitors to Tibet are surrounded by old castles, monasteries,
ruins, and booming streets. There are also gardens, markets, and
emerald mountains in the surrounding area. Many visitors are
intoxicated by the beauty of Potala Place, Nyainqentanglha Peak,
Nam Co Lake, Lhasa River, the Yarlung Zangbo River, Yumzhog Yumco
Lake, the Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon, Namjagbarwa Peak in Nyingchi
and Yangbajain Geothermal Power Station.
Local tourism departments have
encouraged farmers and herdspeople to take part in the industry to
help reduce poverty. In 2004, the number of farmers and herdspeople
who did this increased from 12,026 to 29,194. Their total income
rose from 31.21 million yuan (US$3.8 million) to 67.97 million yuan
(US$8.2 million) that year, 2,328 yuan (US$280) per capita.
Tourist departments have organized
the Lhasa Culture Tour, the Scientific Exploration Tour, the
Mountaineering Tour, the Festival Tour, the Worshipping Tour and
the Trekking Tour, making it possible for visitors to enjoy
themselves in the picturesque landscapes, with Tibet's folklore,
culture and religion.
(China.org.cn by staff reporter Wang
Qian, July 12, 2005)