Lhasa receives record number of tourists for Shoton Festival


LHASA, Aug. 13 — This year’s Shoton Festival in Lhasa, regional capital of Tibet, attracted a record-high 1.38 million tourists from home and abroad, government sources revealed Tuesday.
Also known as the Yogurt Banquet, the week-long event, which ended Monday, brought tourism revenue of 286 million yuan (about 46.7 million U.S. dollars) to Lhasa, said Chamdoi, the city’s deputy mayor.
The hospitality industry and total tourism revenue both recorded year-on-year increases of over 15 percent.
Visitors swarmed into the plateau city to enjoy and appreciate the grand event, which is considered one of the most important festivals on the Tibetan calendar.
The festival started with the “sunning of the Buddha” ceremony held in the 600-year-old Drepung Monastery, where pious Buddhists prayed to a 1,480-square-meter portrait of Buddha.
Festival organizers also staged an exhibition dedicated to “thangkas,” painted Tibetan scrolls with a history of more than 1,300 years.
Tibetan opera performances were also staged at the Norbulingka Park during the festival, attracting more than 80,000 people each day.
The festival was originally a religious occasion, when local people would offer yogurt to monks who had finished meditation retreats. It has been held since the 17th century.
In 2006, the Shoton Festival was included in the first list of China’s Intangible Cultural Heritage.[db:内容2]