Authorities have published a long-term plan for the tourism industry's sustainable development on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, which aims to retain the same blue-sky and plateau views even after years of development.
The scheme (2006-20) plans to develop the region along the Qinghai-Tibet Railway into a top-quality tourist destination, which it is hoped will attract some 3 million tourists each year, staying for an average of seven to 12 days by 2020.
But tourism administrators say the development should not be achieved at the cost of the environment, said Yang Kaizhong, an economist and professor with Peking University who heads the planning team, supported by the China National Tourism Administration.
As a preventive move, Yang's team has defined "no entry", "entry limit", "free entry" and "encouraged entry" sections in the region.
"Ten natural reserves in the region, such as the core region of Hoh Xil national nature reserve, will be barred from any entry or tourism development," he said, adding that areas where human landscape resources are not opened are also banned.
Unduplicable scenic spots like the Potala Palace and Tar Lamasery are areas where limits will be set for tourist entry, he said.
But entry into major towns, such as Lhasa, Nagqu, Golmud and Xining, and some scenic spots that are capable of receiving unlimited numbers of tourists, such as the formal research base of China's first atomic bomb, are encouraged.
It is because the big towns will shoulder the task of providing accommodation, leisure and shopping places for tourists, Yang said.
It is expected 85,100 hotel rooms will be needed along the railway by 2020, most of which should be located in the towns.
"But we do not encourage building high towers and star-rated hotels there. It is better to have more family hotels, small-scale inns and non-permanent facilities with strong local cultural and architectural features in the community," he said.
The plan also suggests setting up sewage treatment works in Xining, Delingha and Golmud in Qinghai, and Lhasa and Nagqu in Tibet, and building large-scale waste-disposal plants in Xining, Golmud and Lhasa, so that sewage and rubbish left by tourists and produced by railway passengers can be disposed of, he said.
In addition to environmental protection, the plan is also exploring new spring and winter scenic spots, aiming to extend the sightseeing period around the plateau from the current six months (May-October) to more than eight months after 2020.
Tourists are also expected to benefit from it by having better planned itineraries.
The planning work started in 2006, as the Qinghai-Tibet Railway is forecast to stimulate tourist growth to the plateau as a more affordable and convenient means of transport.
(China Daily July 20, 2007)