A direct train service from Shanghai to Lhasa beginning on October 1 is expected to renew enthusiasm for Tibetan tours.
There has already been a lot of interest in the region since the Qinghai-Tibet section of railway began operating in July.
According to the Shanghai Railway Administration, the Shanghai-Lhasa line extends for 4,373 kilometres and the trip will take about 52 hours. The service will run every other day. Ticket prices range from 406 yuan (US$51) to 1,314 yuan (US$164) and can be bought from today.
Some travel agencies were already accepting bookings.
The Shanghai Railway Tourism Group said more than 500 people have signed up for its Tibetan tour package. About 200 are planning to set off on October 1.
It is believed seats for groups of tourists on the first train from Shanghai to Tibet are full and the next two trains will also soon be sold out.
Shen Jie, public relations manager of a local resaurant, said she was excited about the opening of the new service.
But she will not travel at the beginning of October, because the week-long national holiday is usually a travel peak.
"I will probably make a 20-day trip to Tibet in late October or November because a train-based trip takes a lot of time. I hear the scenery along the way is spectacular," she said.
Wang Jianxin, from the Spring International Travel Service in Shanghai, said his agency is planning to take a group of nearly 40 people on the first direct train from Shanghai. The group is expected to return by air, with the tour lasting about nine days.
"Many people contacted us about Tibetan train tours after the opening of the direct train service was announced," he said.
"I estimate the supply of train tickets for the opening date will fail to meet the demands of individual tourists."
(China Daily September 22, 2006)