Rail fast-tracks Xigaze economy
to showcase the history of Sakya, and a 1,293-meter-long (0.8 mile) viewing route around the Sakya Monastery was built for tourists and pilgrims.
As a move to encourage local residents to get involved in the tourism industry, the county government provided 32 rent-free pavements at the tourism center.
Zhang’s research showed that the county welcomed 900 tourists on Oct 2 this year, and a shop selling Tibetan incense at the tourism center made 12,000 yuan ($1,934) on that day.
“This is an example of tourism as a driving force and an opportunity for income in Sakya,” said Zhang.
“We want to turn Sakya into a tourism destination in the region, and we aim to benefit the local people this way,” said Nyima Tsering, the director of the Sakya County Tourism Bureau. “Thangka paining is one of our features, as we have five famous inheritors of the Mansar style of the Tibetan thangka art,” said the 37-year-old.
Statistics show that the population of Sakya is around 50,000, and about 10,000 people are involved in the tourism business.
Tourism revenue accounted for 40 percent of the county’s gross domestic product in 2014. Contact the writers at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org
The recent opening of the LhasaXigaze Railway has paved the way for Xigaze’s upgrading from a prefecture to a prefecture-level city.
The line, which started operation in August, has enabled travelers to set out from Lhasa in the morning and arrive at scenic attractions around the Himalaya Mountains, which are located south of Xigaze, before sunset.
The construction of the line began in January 2011. It has 14 stations and a maximum train speed of 120 km per hour (75 mph).
Since opening in August, the line has accelerated the speed of Tibet’s connection with inland transport networks.
The line links Lhasa, the autonomous region’s center, with Xigaze, the most populous city in Tibet, and extends the current Qinghai-Tibet railway, said Galsang Drolma, a researcher at the China Tibetology Research Center in Beijing.
In the past, travelers had to make the trip on the No 318 National Highway, which is said to have many safety hazards.
“The trains have attracted more travelers coming to remote regions in Tibet, and more local residents going out,” she said. “This willl definitely promote the exchange of different cultures and create more opportunities for local people.”
Moreover, Xigaze is the biggest producer of grain in Tibet, but farmers have been hampered by poor transportation options and were unable to do business with distant buyers.
“The line helps them sell products to the huge markets in Tibet and other provinces, thus increasing their income,” she added.
Buchung, general manager
of the Rinpung Darawa Barley Wine Co Ltd in Xigaze, said the railway has helped reduce the company’s transportation costs and enabled it to expand its market share in Lhasa.
Wu Zhiqiang is the president of the Tibet Xigaze Peiqiang Organic Meat Industry Group Co Ltd, one of three organic companies in the city. The company is based in Xigaze’s Gamba, a sparsely populated county with grassland and snow-capped mountains famous for its sheep. Its products include mutton, yak meat and Tibetan chicken. Wu said that sales have climbed since the opening of the Lhasa-Xigaze rail. He said that his company’s products are sold mainly in domestic markets, but he hopes to expand overseas thanks to preferential policies of the newly upgraded Xigaze city, which encourage organic industries.
“Thanks to the preferential policy of the government, I have got 1.5 million yuan ($244,000) as a support fund from the government to my business,” said Wu.
Xu Aiyan, a professor from Tibet University, spoke highly of the benefits the newly upgraded Xigaze will bring to local residents.
“It will enhance the cooperation and exchanges between Tibet and border countries, and help boost the economy of the border residents,” Xu said.
A bird’s eye view of the municipal district of Xigaze, a city in Tibet autonomous region.