The Qinghai-Tibet Railway and Tibet Tourism: Travelers’ Perspectives
Su, Ming Ming
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With the distinguished natural and cultural tourism resources, Tibet is undoubtedly a desirable travel destination both domestically and internationally. With the newly opened Qinghai-Tibet railway to Lhasa in July 2006, Tibet tourism development was boosted markedly due to the increased accessibility and affordability. This study evaluates the impacts of the increased accessibility achieved through the Qinghai-Tibet railway on tourist travel decisions for, and experiences in, Tibet from travelers’ perspectives. The relative importance of the train journey in comparison with the destination experience at Tibet is also examined. A destination choice framework is proposed based on a review of previous literature. It is applied in this study to understand tourists’ travel destination choice of Tibet. A questionnaire survey was designed as the major primary data collection method to collect travelers’ perceptions on the train journey and Tibet tourism. Conducted on the train to and from Lhasa of Tibet, a total of 187 questionnaires were collected, including 82 for the pre-visit sample and 105 for the post-visit sample. Important destination choice factors for Tibet are identified in this study. The findings also support the importance of the railway on tourists’ destination choice of Tibet and in the overall travel experience of Tibet. Expectations and satisfactions with the destination are also compared to indicate possibilities for further destination development in Tibet. This study improves the understanding of both the supply and demand sides of the tourism industry in Tibet. Both practical implications and academic implications are presented based on the major findings of this study. Contributions of this study and future research opportunities are discussed.