Tibet to suspend foreign visits until after party congress

A Chinese tour operator says visits by foreigners to Tibet will be suspended until the end of a major political meeting in Beijing next month.

A woman who answered the phone Monday at the state-run Tibet International Travel Service in the local capital of Lhasa said no foreigners would be issued special permits to visit the Himalayan region until Oct. 29. The Communist Party's national congress, held once every five years, is due to begin Oct. 18 and is expected to run about 10 days.

The woman, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said she had been told that all rooms at Tibetan hotels where foreigners are permitted to stay had been booked by the government.

Calls to the Tibetan regional and Lhasa city tourist bureaus rang unanswered.