Ngari Prefecture, widely known as the "ridge" on the "roof of the world", expects a record 67,000 tourists this year thanks to a new rail link between the plateau and China's inland areas.
The 300,000-square kilometer area with an average altitude of 4,500 meters in western Tibet is emerging as a new attraction for tourists and expeditioners to the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, said Li Yujian, director of the tourism administration in Ngari Prefecture.
Last year, Ngari received 60,000 tourists and posted more than 33 million yuan (4.23 million U.S. dollars) in tourism income, Li said.
"In the first seven months of this year, we received 37,000 domestic and overseas tourists, up 10 percent from the same period of last year," said Li.
Tourist arrivals in Ngari totaled only 13,500 in 1998.
Ngari is known for its "holy mountain", the Kangrinboqe, "holy lake", the Mampang Yumco, the Zhada Clay Forest and the ruins of the Guge Kingdom that was founded around the 9th century, survived about 700 years and disappeared mysteriously in the 17th century.
Train services from several major inland cities, including Beijing, to Tibetan capital Lhasa began last July, opening the door to a surge of domestic and overseas tourists to the plateau.
China's central government has also announced plans to build the world's highest airport in Ngari -- the fourth civilian airport in Tibet Autonomous Region -- before 2010.
Meanwhile, roads linking Sengge Zangbo river in Ngari with Lhaze county in Xigaze, formerly built of sand and stone, are being renovated into blacktops to speed up road traffic and improve safety.
"With easier access to traffic, Ngari expects to receive 570,000 tourists in 2020," said Li.
Tibet has received 3 million tourist arrivals so far this year, compared with 2.5 million for the whole of 2006.