Inaugural group of Chinese tourists arrive in Pyongyang

08:38, April 13, 2010      

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A worker puts up an advertisement promoting tourism to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) at a travel agency in Beijing on Monday. (China Daily)

A Chinese group made up of 35 government officials and tourists arrived in Pyongyang on Monday, becoming the first of its kind to visit the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) since China granted destination status to its neighbor in February.

The group, headed by deputy director of the National Tourism Administration Zhu Shanzhong, received a warm welcome on arrival in Pyongyang.

Zhu said the DPRK is a beautiful country and many Chinese tourists have long been yearning to visit.

There will be more and more Chinese tourists coming to the DPRK from now on, he said.

The DPRK has been receiving Chinese tourists since 1988, with as many as 20,000 Chinese visiting Pyongyang each year.

Some 360 Chinese tourists from the same group will arrive in Pyongyang by air or by train in 18 batches in the following days.

Members of the tourist group come from 10 provinces and municipalities including Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai and Liaoning province.

In the five- to eight-day trips, the group will visit places like Panmunjom, where the Korean War armistice agreement was signed, the Kumsusan Memorial Palace, the Friendship Tower and Mansudae Hill.

Travel agents said the tour is most attractive to the elderly people, who "feel close to and curious about the friendly yet mysterious neighbor".

Zhao Hui, manager of the Korean marketing department with China Comfort Travel Group Co Ltd, said all 35 members of the inaugural tour group to the DPRK are older than 50.

"Some of them are attracted by the nation's mystery, while others want to experience their younger days because they think the current DPRK is like China in the 1960s," he said.

A 72-year-old Beijing tourist, who revealed her surname as Liu, said she was attracted by stories about the honest of people in Pyongyang.

"They said no one picks up what's left by the wayside, but waits there for the owner. It is like China in the 1950s," she said.

Lin Yeping, 68, who visited the DPRK in the 1980s as a member of a government delegation, said: "The country impressed me for its cleanliness and people's politeness. Many years have passed, and I want to see how Pyongyang has changed."

Prior to the inaugural tour group, tour agencies could also organize tour groups to the DPRK, but on business visas.

"The visa process used to take a longer time, and we could not advertise or promote Pyongyang-bound tours," Zhao Hui said.

Following a memorandum of understanding signed by China and the DPRK last October, all Chinese mainland citizens can join tour groups to visit the country.

The implementation of the memorandum signals a closer friendship between the two nations, a spokesman for the National Tourism Administration said.

The five-day tour package to the DPRK by air is now priced at 5,280 yuan ($754), which is relatively high in view of its proximity, said Cui Haishun, a manager at the China International Travel Service.

Traveling by trains is likely to cut the price to about 3,000 yuan at the end of this month, which is expected to attract more tourists to the DPRK, she said.

But due to Pyongyang's limited capacity of tourist reception, travel agents forecast the number of tourists to visit the DPRK will not rise even after the price drop.

Xinhua contributed to the story

Source:China Daily



(Editor:梁军)

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