LHASA, Dec. 22 (Xinhua) -- Tibet is forecasting to receive at least five
million tourists in 2008, an official with the region's development and reform
Jin Shixun, director with the Commission, said Tibet expected a 25 percent
increase in tourists next year. They would push tourism revenue in the
autonomous region to six billion yuan (about 800 million U.S. dollars).
The commission estimated earlier that the region, with a total population
of 2.8 million, would receive a record-high 4.02 million tourists in 2007, a 64
percent increase year-on-year. Tourism revenues were forecast at 4.8 billion
Tibet's architectural icon, the Potala Palace, has received more than one
million tourists alone so far this year.
Tourism is Tibet's main industry. The region received 2.5 million tourists
last year, earning 2.77 billion yuan in total tourism revenue. This accounted
for 9.6 percent of the region's gross domestic product.
Jin attributed the surge in tourists mainly to the operation of the
Qinghai-Tibet Railway that was completed in July 2006.
Statistics show that in the first full year of operation of the railway to
this past June, more than 1.5 million visitors, accounting for over half of the
total tourists, took the train to the region. Another 1.4 million arrived by
The 1,956-kilometer railway, built at cost of 33 billion yuan, was the
first railway to connect Tibet with the outside world.
From July 2006 to June this year, a total of 1.5 million people had come to
Tibet by train. Among those, more than a half were tourists.