Official: Tibet forecasts five mln tourists in 2008 2007-12-22 15:31:37   Print

    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 commission said.

    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 yuan.

    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 air.

    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.

Editor: Bi Mingxin
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