China has again stopped issuing travel permits for foreign tourists to Tibet and has ordered close scrutiny of tourists already there as security is stepped up in sensitive areas in the run-up to the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic on October 1. The arrangements were relayed to tourism operators by the autonomous region's tourism bureau at a meeting on Sunday night. They were effective immediately and would be in force until, tentatively, October 8, industry insiders said yesterday. The move comes as the central government's nerves have been rattled by three possible security breaches in Beijing in four days as it attempts to pull off a flawless and trouble-free grand parade to mark the anniversary. Although tourists who have already obtained the travel permits would be allowed to stay in Tibet, tourism operators were told to keep a close eye on visitors, as they would be held responsible for their actions. A tour agent in Lhasa who attended the meeting, said the ban would not affect foreigners who had obtained permits before Sunday or those already travelling in the region. 'A group of foreign tourists from the US and Europe, who managed to secure the permits, are due to arrive at Lhasa on September 29 as scheduled,' said the agent, who would only be identified by his surname, Li. 'But another batch wanted to come here in late September but had to postpone their trip because their application came in too late.' Li said tourism officials in Tibet were negotiating with Air China to waive all surcharges if any travellers needed to change their itineraries because of the ban. Travel agents in Lhasa said they had been required to report foreigners' schedules and whereabouts to the tourism bureau daily. 'If anything goes wrong, we will be in trouble. We'll have to close down our agency and be fined 200,000 yuan (HK$227,000),' said Lotse, a Tibetan tour guide based in Lhasa. The things that could go wrong, he said, would include foreign tourists going to a monastery or any tourist spot without a local tour guide. Travel agencies were now strictly required to provide every tour group of foreigners with a vehicle and a tour guide, Lotse added. Each foreign tourist is currently required to obtain a Tibet Travel Permit to enter the region, apart from a Chinese visa. But over the years, many foreigners have managed to get through the porous borders between Tibet and neighbouring provinces and travel around on their own. But scrutiny on foreigners was stepped up and the region was closed to tourists for months after deadly rioting broke out in the region in spring last year. Beijing has accused overseas Tibetan groups and the Dalai Lama, Tibet's spiritual leader, of plotting and instigating the rioting. In the run-up to the National Day celebration, police in Lhasa launched a far-reaching crackdown on crimes ranging from violence to rumour mongering starting from September 1, the Tibet Daily reported yesterday. The crackdown would target establishments - including guesthouses, bath houses, massage parlours and Tibetan-style dance halls - that are considered hotbeds for crimes such as prostitution, gambling and drug abuses, it said.