Holiday Inn quits Tibet after protests

Holiday Inn is pulling out of managing the only luxury hotel in Tibet following a campaign by a human rights group which claimed the venture brought financial benefits only to the Han Chinese authorities rather than local Tibetans. The state-owned Lhasa Holiday Inn is used by most of the expensive package tours which bring foreign tourists to Lhasa, and loss of its Western management will be embarrassing for China.

Holiday Inn has managed the hotel for more than a decade and no reason was given for the decision. The company, whose parent is Bass, appears loath to discuss the matter for fear of jeopardising its wider business interests in China. There are around 18 Holiday Inn-managed hotels in mainland China.

The London-based Free Tibet Campaign launched an international boycott of the hotel group in 1993. Alison Reynolds, director of the group, said: "This is a great campaign victory for the Tibet movement internationally."

It is the Chinese authorities who control and promote tourism to Tibet, including regulations which exclude almost all foreign journalists.

Human rights in Tibet remain in a dire state. Since May, political "re- education" teams have been installed in monasteries to instruct monks and nuns to "Love the Country, Love Religion". In practice, this means forcing monks to sign written denunciations of the Dalai Lama, including in one case describing Tibet's exiled spiritual leader as "the head of the serpent".

Many monks have refused to co-operate, says the London-based Tibet Information Network. In Nyemo county, a group of monks have been locked into their monastery for at least three weeks after not signing.

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