SHENYANG, China — North Korea, ever eager to get foreign currency, is opening up more tourist routes for well-heeled Chinese visitors.
North Korean government officials have staged a marketing blitz in China to lure wealthy tourists to the isolated country.
Several Chinese travel agencies handle package tours to North Korea.
There are now direct flights from Beijing, Shenyang and Harbin to Pyongyang. It is also possible to arrive by train, private car or walk across the border.
Charter flights from Harbin began from April.
“The response has been good because we receive about 20 to 30 inquiries daily,” said a travel agency representative in Harbin. “We offer many packages. For example, there is one aimed for business purposes, such as inspecting the investment environment.”
Last year, North Korea opened up a new tourism route that allows Chinese travelers to take a train from Tumen, Jilin province, and visit scenic spots in North Korea’s rugged northeast, such as Chongjin and Mount Chilbosan.
Another tour allows drivers from Hunchun, Jilin province, to visit Rason, a port city on the northeast coast that is designated as a special economic zone.
“Although there is only one tour a week, we get close to 100 participants every time. Many are senior citizens,” said a Tumen travel agency representative.
All the tour packages target the well-off Chinese traveler.
The Chinese yuan can be used in North Korea. Some packages include a round of golf in Pyongyang.
North Korean government officials in charge of tourism periodically visit Jilin province and have begun marketing studies, according to a Chinese researcher on relations between China and North Korea.
In response to questions from The Asahi Shimbun, an official with a North Korean travel agency said: “The increase in the number of travel routes is to gain more foreign currency. It is very cost-effective because only a small amount of investment is needed.”
However, all tours are for groups only and the costs are relatively expensive, especially in comparison to the cost of living in North Korea.
Strict limits are placed on free-time activities and Chinese travelers cannot bring in such equipment as large cameras, telescopes and mobile phones.« Prev：Jianchuan: China’s Biggest Museum Cluster From Tiananmen Square to alleys and the arts, 5 ways to explore hectic Beijing for free：Next »