China, Russia, DPRK usher in transnational tour amid stonger regional cooperation

08:25, April 27, 2011      

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China launched a transnational tour on Tuesday that will allow travellers to visit Russia and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) on a single trip.

A group of 21 tourists left Changchun, capital of northeast China's Jilin Province, on Tuesday for the border city of Hunchun. The travellers will then leave Hunchun to visit Slavyanka, Vladivostok and Khasan.

The tour group will then travel directly from Russia to the Dooman River and the DPRK side of the Rason free trade zone before arriving back in Hunchun on May 4.

The tour, a pilot program that has been approved by the National Tourism Administration, was jointly inaugurated by travel agencies from all three countries.

Chinese tourists are now allowed to visit the two neighboring countries without applying for visas, said Li Chengwen, deputy general manager of the Hunchun Sanjiang International Travel Agency, one of the tour's organizers.

"Travellers can now easily visit Russia and the DPRK, as this program has dramatically shortened document processing time," Li said.

Tourists joining the tour need to send copies of their identification cards and passports to the travel agency just two days ahead of the tour, which will start every Wednesday, according to Li.

Experts say the launch of the tour program is a signal that economic cooperation among countries in the Northeast Asia region is warming up.

Yi Baozhong, a professor at the Center for Northeast Asian Studies of Jilin University, said the program will create a new foundation for future tourism opportunities.

"It will lay a solid foundation for tourism cooperation among Northeast Asian countries," Yi said.

Statistics from the Jilin Tourism Bureau show that tourism in the Northeast Asian region grew at an average rate of 7.7 percent from 2000 to 2010.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) launched the Greater Tumen Initiative (GTI) in 1995, which provides a multilateral forum for its member countries to tap potential economic opportunities.

Yi said tourism is a frontrunning sector that will likely create even more opportunities for cooperation between countries in the region.

However, Yi also noted that relevant countries need to create a relaxed policy environment and speed up the construction of infrastructure such as airports, seaports and highways.

Source: Xinhua
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