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Tibet to See Record Number of Tourists in 2007 བོད་སྐད།

Chinese officials say the number of tourists traveling to Tibet will rise to a record of four million this year, thanks to a new airport and a railway linking the Himalayan region to the rest of China.

The official Xinhua news agency says the number of tourists in 2007 will more than double over the previous year, and bring in about 650 million dollars in revenues.

Tibet's top Communist Party official, Zhang Qingli, said the new rail and air links are beginning a "golden era" of Tibetan tourism.

The railway is the world's highest, rising above five-thousand meters in elevation. Critics argue the new train is bringing an influx of migrants that threaten Tibetan culture, and strengthens Beijing's hold over Tibet. Chinese troops took control of Tibet in 1950.

Exiled Tibetans condemn the railway as being primarily designed to further accelerate the Chinese population transfer into Tibet, where Han Chinese population is already said to have outnumbered the Tibetan population.

Tibetans argue the rail line is allowing the region to be flooded with more ethnic Han Chinese, who are dominating the business and, eroding the Tibetan traditions and linguistic identity.

Some information for this report provided by Phayul and AFP.