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(LEAD) N. Korea, China appear to speed up tourism cooperation: sources

All Headlines 16:22 August 09, 2018

(ATTN: ADDS North's bid to attract Taiwanese tourists in last five paras)

BEIJING, Aug. 9 (Yonhap) -- North Korea and China are showing signs of speeding up cooperation in the tourism sector despite ongoing United Nations sanctions on the North, sources here said Thursday.

According to the sources, top officials of North Korea's General Administration of Civil Aviation and a tour agency affiliated with Air Koryo, the North's flag carrier, visited China's Guangdong Province in the middle of July to discuss bilateral tourism cooperation.

The North Korean officials met with top executives of Guangdong China Travel Service Co., one of the largest tourism agencies in southern China, they said.

(LEAD) N. Korea, China appear to speed up tourism cooperation: sources - 1

Both sides exchanged opinions on the development and trends of the tourism industry in North Korea and China and agreed to promote North-bound travel products and services among Chinese tourists, the sources noted.

The General Administration of Civil Aviation is the North's government body in charge of international aviation and travel services, and Guangdong China Travel Service is a leading tour agency in southern China.

"The recent meeting between top officials of North Korea's civil aviation administration and a major Chinese tour agency seems to indicate considerable progress in bilateral tourism cooperation," a source said.

"Such progress is impossible without the support of the Chinese authorities. Beijing seems to help ease the North's foreign currency shortage through the tourism sector cooperation," the source said.

At present, Air Koryo flies to three Chinese cities -- Shenyang, Beijing and Shanghai.

Recently, the number of weekly flights on the Pyongyang-Shenyang route increased from two to three, while almost every seat on Pyongyang-Beijing trains has been sold out.

A capture of a Chinese tour agency's promotion of group tours to North Korea. (Yonhap)

Chinese tour agencies have begun recruiting tourists by massively promoting a new "mass games" event set to start in Pyongyang on Sept. 9 to celebrate the North's 70th founding anniversary. Some products for the mass games event were already sold out, the sources said.

Meanwhile, North Korea has also begun a campaign to attract tourists from Taiwan.

A Chinese tour agency licensed by Pyongyang held a briefing session on North Korean tourist attractions in Taipei in late July, according to KOTRA, a South Korean trade promotion agency, and other sources.

At that time, a promotional video of Pyongyang and the North's main tourist destinations, such as Kaesong, Wonsan, Mount Kumgang, Mount Paektu and Mount Myohyang, were introduced to a packed audience, they said.

Taiwanese tour agencies have expectations for a direct charter flight between North Korea and Taiwan or a Seoul-Pyongyang tour program amid easing tensions on the Korean Peninsula. Currently, Taiwanese tourists are able to visit North Korea via Beijing, Shenyang, Dandong and other Chinese cities.
(END)

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