There are about 1,700 permanent residents in Darchen, Ngari prefecture, Tibet autonomous region. Many households have started making and selling handicrafts to visitors who come to the remote town during peak travel time, especially the Saga Dawa Festival, which is celebrated on April 15 in the Tibetan calendar (June 17 in the Western calendar this year).
"Foreign pilgrims are fond of these handmade accessories and pendants, but after trekking at high altitude for several days, they are too burned out to look for a store that sells such gifts," said Namgyal Trinley, police instructor at the Darchen Border Control Police Station.
In July, some villagers used tricycles to haul goods uphill and sell them near the pilgrims' route, causing crowds to gather and obstruct the traffic flow, and leading to pickpockets stealing from visitors, Namgyal Trinley said.
Instead of adopting a one-size-fits-all method to forcibly remove all the stalls and forbid such activity, the officers decided to look for a solution that would facilitate the trade.
Fang Junjie, the station chief, contacted several agencies that run major hotels in Darchen.
"I asked them to rent out a small part of the lobby to local handicraft makers, so when exhausted tourists complete their treks and return to the hotels to rest, they will naturally pass by the stalls and make purchases if they wish," he said.
Several hotel owners agreed to his proposal.
"We arranged for both parties to sign an agreement," Fang said, adding that villagers are required to keep their space clean and tidy, and refrain from improper promotions.
Namgyal Trinley said, "We were pleased to see a win-win situation in the end."
The people of northern Tibet are honest, frank, and straightforward in what they say and do.