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Tibet's first luxury hotel opens

Local tourism authorities are expecting boom of high-end tourism in southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region as the region's first luxury hotel opened Monday in Lhasa.

The St. Regis Lhasa Resort, the first international luxury hotel in Lhasa, the regional capital, covers nearly 32,000 square meters and is a green hotel.

"By utilizing solar energy and geothermal energy, the St. Regis Lhasa Resort can save on diesel energy consumption every year by 93,000 kg," said Phil McAveety, chief brand official of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. which owns the hotel.

"The opening of St. Regis ends Tibet's history of no luxury hotels. Shangri-La Hotel and InterContinental Hotel will be built in Lhasa in 2010. High-end hotels will help boost Tibet's tourism," said Wang Songping, deputy chief of the region's Tourism Administration.

During the first three quarters of 2010, tourist arrivals in Tibet hit 5.8 million, up by 22.6 percent over the same period last year.

The remote southwestern region witnessed a tourism boom in the past few years, especially since the opening of the Qinghai-Tibet railway on July 1, 2006 -- the first rail link between Tibet and the rest of China.