Rail fast-tracks Xigaze econ­omy

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By PALDEN NY­IMA and PHUNGTSOG TASHI in Xigaze, Ti­bet

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 palden­my­ima@chi­nadaily.com.cn and daqiong@chi­nadaily.com.cn

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.

TASHI DUNBRUB / FOR CHINA DAILY

A bird’s eye view of the mu­nic­i­pal dis­trict of Xigaze, a city in Ti­bet au­ton­o­mous re­gion.

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