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Tibet Sees Surge in Tourism Thanks to New Railway
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Tourism grew rapidly in Tibet in the first nine months of year, thanks to a newly-opened railway and airport, local authorities said Monday.


The number of visitors to Tibet reached 1.9 million in the first nine months, up 29 percent on a year earlier, a government spokesman told a news conference.


Tourism revenue topped 2.03 billion yuan (US$250 million) during the period, up 24 percent, the spokesman said.


Driven by tourism, other industries -- such as hotels, catering, transportation, communications and entertainment -- also developed rapidly, he said. Retail sales reached 6.21 billion yuan in the period, up 18 percent year-on-year.


The spokesman attributed the growth of the service sector in the region to the newly-opened railway and airport.


The Qinghai-Tibet Railway, which starts from Xining, capital of northwest China's Qinghai Province, and ends in Lhasa, capital of southwestern Tibet Autonomous Region, is the first railway ever to go to Tibet.


Before the 1,956 km history-making railway began service on July 1, people could only reach Tibet via air or highway.


Nyingchi Airport, Tibet's third airport after Lhasa and Qamdo, began operation on Sept. 1.


(Xinhua News Agency October 24, 2006)


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