We’ve long taken the position that tourism to occupied Tibet serves the interests of the China’s regime and bank-balances of Chinese dominated tourist businesses. Those seeking the ‘spiritual experience’ of visiting Tibet are exploited, manipulated and suffocatingly controlled by the Chinese authorities. What they are allowed to see is an ersatz version of Tibetan culture, engineered by the same regime which, away from the stage-managed tourist hotspots, wages a genocidal assault upon Tibetan national and cultural identity.
Our just criticism and opposition on this issue occasionally results in weak responses from those who attempt to justify tourism to Tibet by claiming their presence enables information on the plight of Tibetans to reach the wider world. This reasoning held some credibility in the late 1980s and 1990s but no longer. With the instant access of the internet (informed by the knowledge, testimony, courage and sacrifices of Tibetans inside Tibet) the dire circumstances endured by Tibet’s people is freely available, 24/7 via a few taps of a mobile device or laptop.
The fact is that travellers are lead by a leash along well worn and safe tourist routes, constantly monitored, meeting approved Tibetans and exposed to China’s distorted version of Tibetan culture. They do not see the torture centers, visit forced labor camps, or witness the misery of Tibetans forced into concentration settlements.
Of course that inconvenient reality is not what tourists to Tibet are paying top dollars for. They come for the illusion of a Buddhist Shangri-la, which the Chinese tyranny is more than happy to fabricate, while milking them as cash-cows and promoting its propaganda narrative.