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Recent development in Tibetan areas

The policies which have led to this fast economic development have also been applied in the Tibetan areas.

The result was the emergence of a class of Tibetan entrepreneurs, who have set up businesses in trade and tourism.

With the beginning of the economic reforms of the 1980ies, the Tibetan areas experienced an economic boom based mainly on agricultural production. Already at that time, tourism was recognized as a potential income source for the area, but it took off quite slowly.

This field and the trade generated by the development of agriculture were mainly in the hand of Han and Hui entrepreneurs.

However, the last years have seen a sharp increase in the number of Tibetan entrepreneurs; this is due to a combination of factors:

· the above mentioned policy of "harmonious society", i.e. targeted support for the countryside and remote areas

· the recent rise in food prices, leading to an accumulation of capital by Tibetan farmers and herders · a better education level among the Tibetan population, including a better mastery of the Chinese language

· the slow emergence of a "business culture" in the local population

· An improved transport infrastructure which lead to an increase in mobility

Many local entrepreneurs have started as salesmen in big cities, before coming back to their home region to set up a small shop with the help of the local administration.

The income generated in this way allowed them to progressively expand their activities to more capital-intensive activities.

The long-standing tradition of trading in natural products like medicinal herbs has certainly contributed to this process.

The fast growth of tourism in recent years has directed this activity in part towards this promising sector.

In the Tibetan areas, like in the rest of China, most of the recent growth has been driven by Chinese tourists.

Chinese consumers, especially in the coastal regions, have experienced a much faster growth in their income than Western consumers.

This has led all over China to a fast growth of the tourism industry.