Long-time China specialist Helen Wong from Helen Wong’s Tours took some time out of her busy schedule to share some of her top tips for selling Tibet with travelBulletin.
Is there much interest in Tibet from Australian travellers?
Interest in Tibet is minimal on a world scale. It is mainly for people with a special interest or high level of fitness.
What type of traveller would Tibet appeal to?
Is it safe? Has the recent Nepal earthquake had an effect on travel to Tibet?
Definitely safe, although the earthquake did have an effect on numbers of visitors. The main roads have improved.
Is it possible to do Tibet in luxury?
Yes, as there are many five-star hotels now located in Tibet, The Banyan Tree among them.
Which areas of Tibet require an organised tour?
To apply for a travel permit into Tibet foreign travellers need to be on an organised tour with a confirmed itinerary that includes permits, a tour guide and a private vehicle with a driver.
What places and activities would you recommend?
On our Tibet and Yangtze group tour we focus on the capital Lhasa, with a free day to take it easy and acclimatise to the high altitude. Inspirational Potala Palace is the main focal point as well as the magnificent monasteries of Jokhang, Drepung and Sera and the tranquillity of Norbulingka, once the summer palace of the Dalai Lama. The Barkhor Bazaar, found near the old section of the city, is where you can appreciate the lifestyle of the Tibetan people. The scent of yak butter is prominent everywhere.
What are your top tips for agents wanting to sell Tibet?
Advise travellers of the dangers of travelling into a highly elevated region. They need to have a certain level of fitness in the thinner than usual air. Advise travellers of the need for a travel permit which can only be possible by being on an organised tour with itinerary; and lastly, clients should be prepared for a very different experience in a very different world.