China reopened its land border with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) to tourism at Dandong, a city in the northeastern province of Liaoning, beginning Wednesday.
A group of 71 tourists left Dandong for Sinuiju, the border city facing Dandong across the Yalu River for one-day tours early Wednesday. They were mostly Dandong locals.
They were the first group of tourists to arrive in Sinuiju since February 2006 when China suspended all of its border tour programs following rampant gambling by Chinese tourists, according to the exit and reentry section of the Public Security Bureau in Dandong.
Dandong got the approval to restart the border tourism program after a joint examination and evaluation by the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of Justice and the National Tourism Administration in January.
In addition to Dandong, border tours have also resumed in Heiheand Mudanjiang, two cities neighboring Russia in Heilongjiang Province, northeast China, and Chongzuo, a city close to the Sino-Vietnamese land border in south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.
Ji Chengsong, manager with the China International Travel Service Dandong Branch, the organizer of the Sinuiju program, said the travel agency charged each tourist 690 yuan (about 102 U.S. dollars) for the one-day tour. Only an ID original and a copy are needed for each tourist.
"We submit brochures of applicants to the exit and reentry department of the local security bureau for approval before handing the name list to sight-seeing agencies in the DPRK," said Ji, who added his company planned to organize tour groups to Sinuiju four days a week.
According to Ji, on the one-day tour program tourists could visit six scenic sites in Sinuiju, including a museum on the revolutionary deeds of Kim Il Sung, father of DPRK incumbent top leader Kim Jong Il, plus a free lunch for each tourist.
The tour program is only for Chinese citizens, and not for foreigners, said the Public Security Bureau in Dandong City.
Apart from Ji's company, six other travel agencies are also authorized to do tours from Dandong.