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Festival fervor drives Xiahe's tourist tide
update:February 15,2023
LANZHOU — Xu Liang, a tourist from Beijing, stood in the throng of elegantly attired Tibetans, lost in the fervent rhythm of a religious dance being performed by lamas at the Labrang Monastery in Gansu province.
"The Tibetan dancing and the music impressed me a lot," said Xu, who visited during the Spring Festival holiday with his wife and daughter.
This was Xu's second visit to Xiahe, a county dominated by Tibetans, although there are 10 ethnic groups in the region, including Han and Hui.
Despite the chilly weather, picturesque Xiahe, which sits at an altitude of 3,000 meters, was a hub of activity during the holiday, full of the lively chatter of visitors eager to experience its timeless charm.
Labrang Monastery, which was built in 1709, is one of the six main temples of the Gelug sect of Tibetan Buddhism. During the first month of the Lunar New Year, the monastery organized a series of folk activities, among them a religious ceremony known as the "sunning of the Buddha", which drew a crowd of 76,000 tourists from home and abroad.
Kunkyl Tsering, director of Xiahe's cultural and tourism bureau, said that the flurry of activity and buzz of excitement were a promising beginning for tourism this year.
With the warming market, hostels and restaurants in Xiahe also saw a surge in customers.
"My hostel was fully booked during the holiday," said Zhang Yucheng, a local hotelier.
Zhang created a winter experience for the festival, which included activities like bird-watching on a frozen lake, grassland hikes and visits to the homes of Tibetan herders to get a taste of their nomadic lifestyle, which proved popular with visitors.
For younger tourists especially, trying local delicacies is an indispensable part of travel.
Naren and her friend from the Inner Mongolia autonomous region waited in a long queue in front of a Tibetan restaurant to grab a meal. "The restaurant is really popular online. It features Tibetan decoration and Tibetan-style dishes," Naren said.
More than 80 percent of the diners were from outside of Xiahe, with many from major cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou in Guangdong province, said Kunphel, the restaurant's owner, adding that they made 70,000 yuan ($10,300) during the first week of opening. "We have devoted a great deal of attention to the creativity of our meals, many of which are fusion cuisine, and as a result, they have become more popular," Kunphel said.
Official data showed that Xiahe received 254,000 visitors between Jan 21 and Feb 5, generating about 92.71 million yuan in revenue.
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