Lhasa, the capital city of the Tibet autonomous region, received more than 2.86 million tourist arrivals during this year's Shoton Festival, a traditional holiday featuring religious rituals, food and arts, said the Tibet Tourism Development Bureau on Aug 22.
During the five-day holiday, which ended on Aug 20, Lhasa raked in 1.03 billion yuan ($141.42 million) in tourist revenue, said Nagwang Trinley, an official with the bureau.
"Tibet has seen a tourism boom since early summer this year and Shoton Festival has injected new vitality into the flourishing tourism market, particularly in the city of Lhasa," he said.
Shoton Festival, celebrated mainly in Lhasa, originated in the middle of the 11th century and was among the first to be inscribed in the national list of intangible cultural heritage in 2006.
Typical celebrations of the event begin with unrolling a giant thangka painting at the famous Drepung Monastery in the sunshine of early morning, a ritual also known as the "sunning of the Buddha". Other activities include tasting yogurts, picnicking and attending traditional events such as Tibetan opera performances and horse racing.
A tourist from Jinan, the capital of East China's Shandong province, who gave only her family name as Xia, said she enjoyed watching Tibetan Opera at Norbulingka, a park which is dubbed Lhasa's "summer palace". She said she had followed tips on the internet to make her trip more rewarding.
The Shoton Festival celebrations went viral this year: the livestreaming of its opening ceremony on Aug 16 was viewed about 4.33 million times. On Chinese social media, videos with the hashtag "Shoton Festival" received 41.27 million clicks, according to data provided by the Lhasa city government's media office.
The festival has drawn crowds of tourists to various attractions in Lhasa and its neighboring areas.
Liao Sijie, a tourist from East China's Fujian province, said she enjoyed a tour of the Tibet Museum in Lhasa, where she got a better understanding of the local history and culture.
"We are lucky to have arrived in Lhasa during the Shoton Festival celebrations," said Ma Jun'er from Gansu province in Northwest China, as he waited in line to enter the Potala Palace. "The festive ambience is fantastic!"
Riders get ready for a horse race during Shoton Festival. NGAWANG/FOR CHINA DAILY
Members of the public picnic in the city's Norbulingka park to celebrate the festival. DAQIONG/CHINA DAILY