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Shoton Festival brings cash to Lhasa

Palden Nyima / Da Qiong
Updated: Sep 2,2016 9:46 AM     China Daily

Tourists and pilgrims admire a giant thangka show at Drepung Monastery in Lhasa, Tibet autonomous region, on Sept 1.[Photo/Xinhua]

Lhasa’s annual Shoton Festival, which started on Sept 1, will give the city a significant economic boost, as it welcomes a large number of tourists during the weeklong event, the Lhasa Tourism Bureau said.

The celebration has shifted its focus to cultural performances and the integration of sports competitions and trade and investment solicitations in recent years.

The city, which received a record 1.7 million visitors from home and abroad during the event in 2015, saw a 21 percent injection of revenue over the previous year.

The visitors brought 500 million yuan ($67 million) in tourism revenue in 2015, up 33 percent year-on-year, according to the bureau.

On Sept 1, thousands of local Tibetans and tourists gathered for displays of ritual Buddhist images known as thangka-giant silk embroideries used for religious purposes-in Lhasa’s monasteries at Sera and Drepung.

Wu Xiaoli, 45, a tourist from Henan province, said it was her first visit to Tibet to see one of the giant Buddhist images.

“Tibetan people are very religious and hospitable, and I was struck by such a large image,” Wu said. “I want to go and watch Tibetan Opera at Norbu Lingka and go to Namtso Lake in the next few days,” she said.