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Boosting tourism and protecting environment

Visiting Lhasa by train has become a popular choice. The Qinghai-Tibet Railway, known as the sky line, has been functioning for 7 seven years since July 1, 2006, when it was officially put into operation. The railway has not only benefited the local economy, but also protected the environment by virtue of the revenues it has yielded.

Green Project

The railway traverses three national-level nature reserves, namely the Hoh Xil, Sanjiangyuan and Changtang reserves.Environmental supervision of the railway started before its construction and continued after its first operation on July 1, 2006. On October 17th, 2012, the Ministry of Environmental Protection reviewed the world's highest rail system and announced the results to be "satisfying" after evaluation, according to the People's Daily.

According to the ministry, the wildlife paths, protection of vegetation, frozen earth, marsh and scenery, as well as anti-pollution measures have met expectations, and realized the harmony between the projects and the environment.

Economy Engine

Government data indicates that the region received 10.58 million tourists in 2012, a sharp surge compared with 1.8 million in 2006, according to Xinhua reports. Spanning 1,956 km including nearly 1,000 km at an altitude of over 4,000 meters, the Qinghai-Tibet Railway is the world's highest and longest railway on plateau.

The railway line has brought huge economic benefits to both Qinghai and Tibet.

In 2011, the railway line saw a record high of tourist number of 10 mln, in and out of the region, compared with 1.8mln in 2006, 2.7mln in 2007 and 6mln in 2010, according to Wang Songping, deputy chief of the regional tourism bureau.

Starting from scratch after the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet in 1959, Tibet's tourist industry began to sprout right after the reform and opening up policy issued in 1978 by Deng Xiaoping, the architect of this policy.

In 1980, Tibet's first government- run travel agency, China International Travel Service, was founded, according to Wang Songping, the current deputy director of the regional tourism bureau, whose first job was a tour guide in Lhasa in 1984.

Wang said that Tibet's tourism is much more vibrant compared with the previous years, in terms of government support from all levels, in all aspects and the diligence of the local government and common people.

"Over 100 hotels opened in Lhasa in 2007, one year after the operation of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway", according to two editors from the local tourism magazines.