Qinghai-Tibet railway to handle 1.6m passengers

Updated: 2007-12-20 22:29

LHASA -- About 1.6 million passengers are forecast to travel on the Qinghai-Tibet railway this year, its first full year of operation, the Tibet tourism authority said here on Thursday.

The figure was 4.2 times greater than the second half figures of 2006 when the railway went into operation on July 1, an official of the Tibet Autonomous Region said.

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, the official said.

"In the past, foreign visitors made up the majority of tourists in Tibet. But now, the number of domestic tourists has surpassed that of foreigners."

This year, Tibet expected to receive a record-high 4.02 million tourists, helping the region's tourism revenues to hit an estimated 4.8 billion yuan ($651.3 million).

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.

The 1,956-kilometer railway, built at cost of 33 billion yuan, was the first railway to connect Tibet with the outside world. It now transports about 75 percent of the goods between Tibet and other parts of the country.

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