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Tourism Benefits of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway
2006-08-11

Optimism Rides Along With New Rail Link

Du Jie, mayor of Qinghai Province's Golmud City, is optimistic for the economic development of Qinghai Province and Tibet Autonomous Region following the completion of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway. He believes tourism will benefit the most among a range of industries and activities. Famous scenic spots including Tar'er Lamasery, Sun and Moon Mountain, Qinghai Lake, Sanjiangyuan – the starting point of the Yangtze, Yellow and Lancang rivers, the Qarhan Salt Bridge, the Summer Snow on the Kunlun Mountain, Yaochi, Hoh Xil, Yangbajing, Lake Namco and the Potala Palace are sure to enjoy increased visitor numbers.

Industry insiders have also highlighted the positive effect the Qinghai-Tibet Railway will have on west China's tourism. Taking into account the numerous scenic spots along the line it's possible that a world-class tourism economic belt could be established.

The Railway runs through central areas of west China and the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau where the Yangtze, Yellow and Lancang rivers flow from and which has long been credited as the "water tower of China".

Traveling to the source of the Yangtze River could very well become one of those world famous "must see" destinations. Other major tourist attractions include: Asia's largest salt lake – the Qarhan Salt Lake in Qaidam Basin which is nicknamed China's "cornucopia"; the world's largest and longest salt bridge which runs through the Qarhan Salt Lake; the animal paradise of Hoh Xil with rare animal species like Tibetan antelope, and the Yuzhu Mountain which offers superb opportunities for mountaineering.

Qinghai and Tibet are also where ethnic minorities, including Tibetans, Hui and Tu, live in compact communities. The history, arts, handicrafts, folk customs and activities of these minorities will also be attractive to travelers as these natural and cultural resources are irreplaceable.

The mysteries of Buddhism

Qinghai and Tibet are where Tibetan Buddhism prevails and prospers. The world renowned Tar'er Lamasery and Potala Palace have spectacular religious festivals. The Potala Palace sits at the highest altitude of any of the world's palaces and is famous around the globe for its historic and artistic significance. The Kunlun Mountain ranges along the railway have long been worshiped by Taoists with the Yuxu Peak and Yaochi believed to be the location where Xiwangmu (Queen Mother of the West) – a most senior Taoist goddess – holds annual banquets.

Ecological tourism

The railway runs through China's most primitive plateau area which boasts various topographic features: vast grasslands, expanses of gobi and clear lakes. The Hoh Xil between the Kunlun and Nyainqentanglha mountain ranges is perhaps the most famous and attracts scholars and researchers from around the world to carry out scientific research in this paradise of Tibetan antelope, wild donkey and wild yak. The source of the Yangtze River located at the Nyainqentanglha Range's Geladandong Mountain has quite splendid landscape and topographic features. In Qiangtang Plateau in northern Tibet, there's the birds' paradise of Xainza and the wild animal kingdom of Shuanghu (twin lakes). There's also the holy lake, Namco, the world's highest salt lake sitting at an altitude of 4,718 meters.

Mountain tourism

Kunlun Mountain Ranges' Yuzhu Peak is 6,178 meters above the sea level and has glaciers on both its southern and northern sides. The lower glaciers at the southern side are 5,100 meters high and present reasonable challenges for amateur mountaineers. The northern side has more complicated topographic features and give ideal challenges for experienced climbers.

Industrial tourism

The Qarhan Salt Lake is the world's largest inland sedimentation salt lake. Among the 60 billion tons of minerals in the lake, there are potassium, magnesium and lithium….the largest deposits of these minerals to be found anywhere in China. The country's biggest production base of sylbite is located there.

The salt bridge across the Qarhan Salt Lake is also a real wonder. Without using steel or wood, the bridge has a weight capacity of 600 tons per square meter.

Travelers along the Qinghai-Tibet Railway will also be able to experience other spectacular bridges and tunnels across an ever changing geographical landscape.

Lu Chunfang, director-general in charge of the railway construction, said that as a millennium project involving a huge investment, the social and economic benefit of the railway would, to some extent, be realized through the boost to the tourist industry along the length of line. Buildings and other structures along the track such as stations, bridges and tunnels will become landmarks of unique ethnic characteristics of areas.

Because of the new rail link the mystical, natural and cultural landscape will enjoy renewed vitality and be enjoyed by many more people, he added.

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