China still makes a case for the railway. Tibet received 10.58 million tourists last year, a "sharp surge" over 1.8 million in the railway's infancy in 2006, Xinhua reported this month. It added that more than 297 million tons of cargo had been delivered by rail in the same seven years.
Tibet's GDP has more than doubled from 34.2 billion yuan ($558 million) to 70.1 billion yuan since the railway opened, the news agency said.
But let's look at where the foreign money came from. Sorry, Starwood and Eldorado. Turning back to the China Daily report, Tibet saw a leap in "general trade" and "small-scale trade" with south and central Asian countries. India and Nepal, to name just two, share a border with Tibet. Xinhua particularly cites an ethnic handicraft industry.
I concede this: If you find a Tibetan craft shop that's publicly traded in New York, go ahead and buy a few shares.At the time of publication the author had no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Ralph Jennings is on LinkedIn. This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.