Chinese authorities have closed Tibet to visitors following the 2 recent
Self- immolations In Lhasa Tibet's capital.
It is the start of a major festival that traditionally sees tourists
flock to the Himalayan region which has been under tight security
since March 2008 due to the protests against Chinese barbaric
treatment of Tibetans.
Many travel agencies said they were told in May that travellers from
Overseas would not be allowed into Tibet and said they were
clueless about how long the ban would last.
"The tourism bureau asked us to stop organising foreign groups to Tibet
in late May.
We don't know when they will lift the ban," an employee at the Tibet China
International Tour Service told AFP.
The festival traditionally sees Buddhist pilgrims flock to Tibet
to mark the month-long celebration of Buddha's birthday, which
began on June 4 this year - a date that coincided with the anniversary
of the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown on democracy protests.
Another agent from the Tibet China Youth Tour Service said the ban might also be
linked to the "recent social order problem".
Not the first travel ban
China has on many occasions banned foreign travel to Tibet, where
many Tibetans complain of cultural and religious repression at the hands
of Chinese authorities - a claim the government denies.
Since March last year, 37 people have set themselves on fire in Tibetan-inhabited areas
of China in protest at repressive government policies, according to activists.
On May 27, two Tibetan men set themselves alight in front of the Jokhang temple,
a renowned centre for Buddhist pilgrimage in the centre of Lhasa -
the first such incident to hit the regional capital.
Foreign tourists were banned from travelling to the region for more
than a year in 2008 after anti-government riots erupted in Lhasa -
unrest that subsequently spread to other Tibetan-inhabited areas of China.