Tibet reopens to foreign tourists By Michelle Baran / June 25, 2008 Share 1 -- Tibet reopened to foreign tourists on Wednesday after being closed to foreigners since riots in mid-March, according to China state news agency Xinhua. Violence broke out in the Tibetan region of China on March 14, when tens (if not hundreds) of Tibetan protesters, civilians and police officers were killed, according to news reports. (Chinese and Tibetan officials have disputed the death toll). Since then, the regional government had stopped issuing tourist permits to overseas travelers, citing safety concerns and the reconstruction of tourism facilities around scenic spots damaged in the violence, Xinhua reported. On April 23, domestic tour groups were allowed back into the region. In May, visitors from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan were allowed back in. Today, two Swedish tourists arrived in Lhasa, the Tibetan capital, and four tourists from Singapore are expected on Sunday, according to Xinhua. The reopening of Tibet to foreign tourists comes before the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, Aug. 8 to 24. Many operators in the region believed that Tibet would remain closed to foreign tourists until after the Games. On Saturday, the Olympic torch relay made its way through Lhasa, where 75 Tibetans were included among the 156 torch bearers, according to the Beijing Organizing Committee of the Games (BOCOG). Originally, the Tibet leg of the relay was scheduled to last three days, but the event had been scaled down to one, according to BOCOG.