The grand canyon in southern Tibet Autonomous Region is becoming a popular new attraction since opening up to tourists for the first time in mid-July.
So far, more than 30,000 tourists have visited the Yarlung Zangbo River Grand Canyon, said a source from Tibet Travels Co. Ltd..
The Yarlung Zangbo River is the highest major river in the world. It runs through Tibet, India and Bangladesh. The grand canyon, discovered in 1994 in the Himalayas, was formed by a horse-shoe bend in the river where it flows around Mount Namjag Barwa.
The Yarlung Zanbo canyon averages 5,000 meters in depth. The average width at the bottom of the canyon is 80- 200 meters while the narrowest part is only 74 meters. It is considered the deepest in the world, followed by the grand canyon in Colorado and Colia grand canyon in Peru.
The canyon provides passage for moist, warm air from India which allows green tropical forests to grow inside it. The climate also provides a good habitat for animals such as tigers, monkeys, snakes, antelopes and wild boars.
The canyon also attracts whitewater kayakers.
Tibet Travels Co. Ltd started building up the tourist industry to the Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon in 2005. It has spent 363.3 million yuan (about 53.63 million U.S. dollars) building infrastructure such as a cruise service at Mainling, a black-top road, a tourist reception center and a dock.
Other new tourist accommodations will be added next year, including a four-star hotel, a canteen, a hot spring facility, as well as upgrades to the existing airport tarmac at Mainling, said a corporate source.
Wang Songping, deputy chief of the Tibet Autonomous Regional Bureau of Tourism, is upbeat about tourism prospects around the Yarlung Zangbo grand canyon.
"When the entire grand canyon development program is finished by the year 2010, tourists will come in big hordes. They will be able to view snow-capped mountains, trek in the canyon, enjoy hot springs and canoeing," said Wang.
(Xinhua News Agency December 15, 2008)