Fri, Jul 20, 2018 - Page 3 News List

North Korea eyes Taiwan tourists, launches new tour

RECLUSIVE AND EXCLUSIVE:Only preapproved sites are to be visited on the tours, which are to go for NT$40,000, but they would include ‘exclusive’ locations, the organizers said

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

A North Korean travel company is working with a Taiwanese travel agency to attract more local tourists to visit the country.

The travel agency, titled Korean Heritage International Travel Company (朝鮮民族遺產國際旅行社), was in 2015 cofounded by the North Korean National Bureau for Cultural Property Conservation and China’s Jiangyin Huaxi International Travel Service.

It was the first time that the North Korean government worked with foreign investors to establish a tour company.

The company announced yesterday said that it would work with Taiwan’s Chung Hsing Travel Service (創新旅行社) to attract more Taiwanese travelers to North Korea.

For political reasons, tourists in North Korea can only visit tourist attractions approved by Pyongyang, Korean Heritage representative Gu Keyan (顧克燕) said, adding that unsupervised tours are not allowed.

The tour features travel destinations that are exclusively offered to the company’s customers, she said, adding that those destinations have been opened to tourists for the first time.

North Korea is developing its economy following the summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un last month, Gu said.

Since May, the number of Chinese tourists visiting North Korea has grown from about 100 to 1,000 per day, she added.

China remains the main source of tourists to North Korea, followed by Russia, Europe and North America, Gu said, adding that fewer than 1,000 Taiwanese visit North Korea each year.

The tour price was set by the North Korean State General Bureau of Tourist Guidance, Chung Hsing chairman Ringo Lee (李奇嶽) said, adding that a six-day tour would cost between NT$40,000 and NT$50,000.

Taiwan does not have direct flights to Pyongyang and tourists must transfer in China, but the agency hopes to charter direct flights to Pyongyang in the future or to allow business travelers to enter North Korea on private jets, he said.

The North Korean agency would come to the Taipei International Travel Fair in November to promote the tours as well, Lee added.

Travelers would visit the Migok Cooperative Farm, where they can converse with farmers who are assigned by the government to speak with foreigners, he said.

They would also visit Sariwon City, where they can visit Sariwon Folklore Street and recreated ancient buildings, and the Pothonggang Department Store in Pyongyang, he said.

Hsin Show Travel Service Co representative Chien Shih-chiang (簡士強) said he has been organizing tours to North Korea for more than a decade.

Tourists must heed several restrictions to avoid getting in trouble with North Korean authorities, including avoiding any criticism of North Korean leaders and the regime.

Tourists are barred from taking photos that would hurt the image of North Korea, ezfly.com international tour department manager Ren Shih-ting (任詩婷) said.

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