Shops on Barkhor Street of Lhasa, Tibet reopen

Photo taken on Jan. 26, 2019 shows colorful buildings on Barkhor Street in Lhasa, southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region. Photo by Wang Tianhao/People’s Daily Online

By Yuan Quan, Xu Yuyao

After being closed for more than three months to curb the spread of the COVID-19, Barkhor Street, a scenic spot in Lhasa, southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region finally reopened.

“This is good news for us!” Shop owners on Barkhor Street were thrilled upon receiving the news, talking happily in a group chat on instant messaging app WeChat.

Wang Xiqiang runs a photography studio on Barkhor Street. In less than 20 minutes, he received three phone calls from tourists who wanted to take photos in Tibetan costumes on Barkhor Street.

A senior citizen turns a prayer wheel on Barkhor Street in Lhasa, southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region, Jan. 26, 2019. Photo by Wang Tianhao/People’s Daily Online

Tourists are arriving as the attraction resumes operation, and most of Wang’s customers are tourists on road trips to Tibet. In his studio, a tourist from east China’s Shandong province was browsing sample pictures while communicating with photographers.

“We drove here from Shandong, and the six of us enjoyed the scenery along the route a lot. We came here to relax because we had been confined at home for a long time because of the pandemic,” the tourist told People’s Daily.

“Taking pictures in Tibetan costumes as souvenir is a featured product in Tibet,” Wang said, while asking his assistant to edit the photos and contact customers who had made reservations.

Wang Xiqiang runs his studio in part of an arts & crafts shop, as the owner Wang Yu hopes someone could share the rent with him to lower his economic pressure during the pandemic. “Though tourism will surely bounce back after the pandemic, the business in the past three months are still exerting huge pressure on us,” Wang Yu said.

Near the photography studio lies a cultural and creative product shop which is trying its best to make up for the losses during the pandemic through online and livestream marketing.

“We were busy even during the closure,” said Li Lei, who is in charge of operations. “We have a considerable number of followers on online platforms, who buy our products online,” she explained.

At present, livestream is a major marketing approach of the shop, and everyone works for it has turned into an “influencer.” Through a series of online marketing strategies, the online sales of the shop doubled than that in the pre-epidemic period.

An owner of a handicraft shop polishes beeswax on Barkhor Street in Lhasa, southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region, on Jan. 26, 2019. Photo by Wang Tianhao/People’s Daily Online

The store even received orders from Wuhan. In early April, a customer from Wuhan bought a Tibetan bracelet. To deliver the product to the destination when postal services between Tibet and Wuhan were suspended, Li inquired about the reopening of logistics services to Wuhan almost every day.

When postal services to Wuhan resumed days later, she was overjoyed and immediately mailed the product. Now, Li’s shop has 50,000 followers online, and the offline sales is also recovering gradually.

“Purchases are growing despite the relatively small amount of visitors to the store,” Li said, adding that the consumption power still exists, and they are confident about the recovery of their business.

By Yuan Quan, Xu Yuyao, People’s Daily Overseas Edition