Your article China plans theme park in Tibet (13 July) gave the impression that all types of tourists are free to go to Tibet. I recently returned from Tibet and found that this couldn’t be further from the truth.
The overwhelming majority of tourists visiting Tibet today are from mainland China: approximately 4,000 per day visit the Potala Palace. Western tourists are being kept out or if they are lucky enough to get in, are being restricted by permits that allow them to stay in Tibet for only four to seven days.
Chinese tour guides are flooding in from universities on mainland China to Lhasa, taking away one of the only real jobs available to ethnic Tibetans. Having a Tibetan guide is also one of the only chances westerners get to hear the real stories of Tibet now.
Once Chinese tourists have visited Tibet they are encouraged to relocate there and set up businesses. China is using its overwhelming population to drown Tibet and the Tibetans. Everyday ethnic Tibetans are becoming a smaller and smaller minority in their own country.
China doesn’t need to build a theme park; it has already turned Tibet into one.
Wendy Simons Alameda, California, US