The role of tourism in the development of Tibet
Most of what has been said about retail trade is true for the tourism sector too, with a few differences. Another text deals with the specificities of tourism in the Tibetan areas more in detail (see Developing a high value added tourism in the Tibetan areas through education, branding and coordinated marketing). Only aspects relevant to both retail trade and tourism shall be shortly dealt with here.
Tourism is generally more demanding with regards to education. Chinese and English language skills are absolutely essential; in contrast, retail trade focused mainly on Tibetan customers does not even require basic Chinese skills if relations with wholesale traders are managed through a website. Being active in the field of tourism also requires some intercultural competence; it can of course be acquired through trial and error, but each error potentially means a loss in income. Education and training tailored to the concrete needs of tourism are absolutely essential (see below).
Cows, tourists, monks and a temple in the Tibetan mountains: these are the ingredients to develop the region, but we have yet to find the optimal recipe.
On the other hand, the potential income from tourism is much greater than in retail trade, since it can attract wealthy customers from many regions of the globe. The competitive edge of the local population over Chinese from the lowlands is also considerable: no matter whether tourists are interested in the Tibetan religion and culture or whether they come for the mountains and landscapes, only the Tibetans can offer "the real thing". Of course, retail trade and tourism are liked one to another. For example, when setting up a shop, the potential of attracting tourists should always be taken into consideration.