In articulating this vision for Tibet, the book delves into Buddhist myths like Shambala, a pure land, and Western projections like Lost Horizon, Shangri-La, the land of eternal youth.
Hard-nosed friends of Tibet may find this vision of Tibet serving as the spa and sanatorium of the world naïve. But China has taken up the challenge. Beijing is on a massive project to appropriate Tibet’s Buddhist cultural heritage, myths about the country and its clean, invigorating environment to establish a giant tourism industry to attract millions of Chinese tourists to the plateau. In this effort, which some scholars call the “Disneyfication” of Tibet, Beijing has renamed a town in Dechen in eastern Tibet as Shangri-La, a haven for stressed out Chinese to recuperate from the maddening pace of life in urban China. Facilitated by easy means of travel by air and land, Chinese tourists are flocking en masse not only to ‘Shangri-La’ but all over the plateau, triggering a generation of ‘Tibet drifters’ and Shangri-La seekers, young, educated Chinese backpackers who see Tibet as a spa and sanatorium where they can discover the joys of untrampled nature.[Source]