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Tibet sees increasing tourists

BEIJING, Aug. 16 (Xinhua) -- The number of tourists traveling to Tibet by rail is increasing, after the total decreased sharply in the immediate wake of the March 14 Lhasa riot.

Tourist figures were not higher than this time last year but had increased significantly compared with the period just after the unrest, Wang Yongping, spokesman of the Ministry of Railways, said here on Saturday.

"The unrest had a negative impact on the operation of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway," said Wang in the Beijing International Media Center.

He noted that tourist figures to Tibet from March to July this year had decreased by 40 percent, or 327,000 in number, year on year.

However, Wang said no accidents or suspension of operation had been caused by the riot, and presently the security of tourists visiting Tibet by train could be guaranteed.

Bai Xiaochun, vice general manager of Qinghai-Tibet Railway Company, expected a tourist rush to Tibet after the Beijing Olympic Games. Bai said the company had plans in hand and could manage to deal with an increasing number of tourists.

Further, a deluxe train set was planned to put into operation in September along the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, said Bai.

With a total length of 1,956 km, the Qinghai-Tibet Railway connects Xining, Qinghai Province to the capital of Tibet Autonomous Region Lhasa. It is the first railway in Tibet and the highest railway in the world. (source:xinhua)