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Qinghai-Tibet Railway to Shore up Tourists to World's Roof

The number of travelers to southwest China's Tibetan Autonomous Region, known as the "roof of the world," is expected to rise by 15-20 percent annually when the Qinghai-Tibet Railway goes into operation in 2007.


The 1,956-km Qinghai-Tibet railway line, which will run from Xining, capital of northwest Qinghai Province, to Lhasa, Tibetan capital, will give a big impetus to the development of tourism in Tibet, which is a key factor for local economic growth, said Wang Taifu with the academy of social sciences in Tibet.


The section from Xining to Golmud City in Qinghai was completed in 1984. Construction of the 1,118-km section connecting Golmud with Lhasa began in June 2001 and is expected to be completed by 2007.


It is also estimated that 1.8 million people will travel to and out of Tibet in 2010, 630,000 of which will make the trip by train on the Qinghai-Tibet line, the first railway stretching to Tibet.


Tibet accepted 930,000 tourists in 2003, who arrived in the region by air and bus.


The long and tiring journey by buses and expensive trips by air have greatly contained arrivals of tourists to Tibet, posing a big bottleneck for local tourism development and the regional economic growth as a whole, said Wang.


The operation of the railway line will not only encourage an influx of tourists, but also make it much more convenient for Tibetans to travel outside of the region, said Wang.


The railway line will have little impact on the performance of air services, said Wang, though he pointed out that bus transport linking Tibet with neighboring Qinghai, Sichuan and Yunnan provinces as well as Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region will largely lose their passengers to trains, which render more safe, comfortable and cheaper transport.


(Xinhua News Agency March 11, 2004)


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