New rules require in-person interviews and fingerprinting.
-by Radio Free Asia
China has put in place stricter visa rules and conditions for foreign tourists who want to visit Tibet via neighboring Nepal, according to two travel agencies operating in the Nepalese capital.
The Chinese government routinely blocks access to Tibet for foreign journalists, NGO workers, diplomats and foreign citizens of Tibetan heritage. International tourists must obtain a Tibet Entry Permit to enter Tibet, though obtaining one is not usually a complex process.
Many foreign visitors obtain travel permits in Nepal, a common starting point for those planning to visit Tibet.
Those who want to enter Tibet from Nepal must form a group before obtaining a Chinese Group Visa issued by the Chinese Embassy in Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu. When they have the group visa, they can then obtain the Tibet Travel Permit issued by the Tibet Tourism Bureau for travel according to the preset itinerary.
Under the new procedures, foreign tourists who plan to enter Tibet from Nepal must arrive in Nepal one week prior to completing a visa application, and visas will be issued only to groups with a minimum of four people, the travel agencies said. Another report on the new procedures by the Tibetan Review, an independent monthly publication, said a minimum of five people was necessary.
Visa applicants must go in-person to the Chinese Embassy in Nepal in Kathmandu for interviews and provide fingerprints, they said. Chinese Group Visas for approved tourists are issued after five days after background checks.
Foreigners who already have a visa to travel to different cities in China now must apply for a special visa to enter Tibet, they said.
Individual tourists must provide more detailed personal information, such as schools they attended, and specify the places they intend to visit in Tibet, according to Thamel Tours and Travels, a tour agency based in Kathmandu. Click here to read more.