North Korea announces 'all year round' tourism plans

Is North Korea's latest tourism push a way to bring much-needed capital into the dissolving economy?

According to North Korean media, the 'hermit kingdom' plans to open new flights to capital Pyongyang in a bid to boost tourism and allow visitors "all year round."

The state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) says that a regular route will be opened between Pyongyang, Lake Samji and Wonsan for local and foreign tourists.

Jo Song Gyu, director of the International Travel Company of the DPRK said that regular routes will also be created between Pyongyang and Chinese cities like Shanghai and Yanji for "sightseeing" trips.

Although the North Korean economy is worsening every year, the news agency says that a number of "economic development zones" will be built in each province for tourists, and will include "fitness centers, service complexes and souvenir and duty-free shops."

For a country that keeps a tight reign on communication, Internet access and foreign media, the next statement is the most interesting. The KCNA says that foreigners will be allowed to launch joint ventures or independent businesses in the country, including the management of hotels and tourist stores.

"It will render preferential treatment to foreign businesses which come to the DPRK before others so that they can begin making profits as early as possible," the report says.

The Foreign Office says that visits to North Korea generally remain free of trouble, but does warn the situation there has the capability of changing quickly.

It may not all be propaganda. According to Reuters, five motorcyclists from New Zealand were able to make a rare crossing of the world's most heavily militarised border as part of a trip from Russia. Gareth Morgan, one of the riders, said that the group had "an amazing amount of cooperation" from the North.

Via: Skift

Image credit: Flickr

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