Tibet delays May 1 re-opening – Natasha Dragun, Beijing (2008-04-24)

TOURISM officials in the Tibet Autonomous Region have announced that international tourists would not be allowed back into Tibet on May 1 (a national holiday) as previously planned.

Officials said that the region would re-open "soon", but did not specify a date. Local agents reported that train tickets into Tibet for the May Day holiday had already sold out, despite the recent announcement.

Meanwhile, areas around Tibet continue to open to tourists, including parts of Tibetan Yunnan and Sichuan.

Hong Kong builds high-speed rail link – Hong Kong (2008-04-24)

HONG Kong will build a high-speed rail link to connect with points in Guangdong province, which is expected to help the Special Administrative Region develop as a staging destination for rail trips as far as Beijing.

Starting in the emerging West Kowloon cultural hub, the high-speed line will be completed by 2014/15 and will be integrated with China's rail network. Travel time between Hong Kong and Beijing and Shanghai will be reduced from the current 24 and 20 hours to 10 and eight hours respectively, while trips to Guangzhou will be cut in half to about 48 minutes.

Travel agents believe the rail link will have a bigger impact on business rather than leisure traffic. Travel Industry Council chairman, Mr Ronnie Ho, said: "There is huge traffic between Hong Kong and Guangzhou every day and the high-speed service will help business travel in particular because this is not a sightseeing tourist train,"

Forbidden City renovations near completion – Natasha Dragun, Beijing (2008-04-24)

BEIJING officials have confirmed that the US$57 million renovation of the Forbidden City will be completed by end-June, in time for the Olympic Games.

The five-year facelift project will see the area of the Forbidden City open to the public increase from the current 30,000m2 to nearly 400,000m2.

New attractions include the Supreme Harmony hall, the highest and most striking building in the complex.

The new-look Forbidden City will also be more welcoming to disabled visitors, with the addition of elevators and wheelchair ramps, as well as 200 new guides for the sight-impaired.

Officials said that the government would continue to spend around RMB1 million (US$143,010) city repairs every year until 2020.

Written by TTG Travel Hub