High-speed rail network brings travelers back to earth

With the construction of high-speed railway networks on the fast track, Chinese travel agencies are tapping tourism opportunities.

With the construction of high-speed railway networks on the fast track, Chinese travel agencies are tapping tourism opportunities.

China's high-speed rail reached 25,000 kilometers in length by the end of last year, the longest in the world. By 2020, the high-speed network will cover more than 80 percent of big cities in the nation.

The Hong Kong section of the Guangshengang (Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong) high-speed railway will open to traffic on September 23.

With the completion of the network, high-speed trains have become the top travel means of an increasing number of tourists in China, the country's biggest online travel operator, Ctrip, said.

Ctrip launched a high-speed railway travel channel on its app on Monday, involving all cities and tourist destinations along the high-speed network. Tourist attraction tickets, hotels, vehicle rental, one-day tours, and bus tickets are all available. Food and travel reviews can also be found.

Many small- and medium-sized places along the high-speed rail network are included in the destination lists of travelers, and they subsequently witness explosive growth in tourism, it said.

The Hefu (Hefei-Fuzhou) line, the Hukun (Shanghai-Kunming) line and the Xicheng (Xi'an-Chengdu) line are deemed the most beautiful rail routes by tourists, and they continue to gain popularity among travelers.

Between January and July, the booking orders of tourism products related with the Xicheng (Xi'an-Chengdu) line nearly doubled compared with the same period last year, Ctrip said.

"The construction of high-speed rail will significantly boost the number of family travelers and senior tourists, promoting the tourism industries of cities along the high-speed railway," said James Liang, Ctrip's co-founder.

The China Railway Travel Service and China CYTS Tours will develop tours along the Beijing-Hong Kong high-speed railway network.

Hong Kong Ocean Park said it will release ticket packages, combining railway tickets and admission.

It is estimated that high-speed rail travel will account for 20 percent of domestic travel by 2025.

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