20 Feb 2013

Tourism exploding in North Korea

9:55 am on 20 February 2013

Foreign tourism is reported to be "booming" in North Korea.

The Korean Central News Agency said on Tuesday the number of foreign visitors to the North has grown steadily since 2000 and a surge was witnessed after 2009, especially in the number of European visitors.

"The global popularity of tourism to (North Korea) is booming," KCNA said, without providing any breakdown on the number of visitors.

KCNA said a range of "shining, socialist accomplishments" made under the leadership of the ruling Kim family have elevated North Korea's status and sparked interest in travelling to the country.

It did not mention if the "accomplishments" included a long-range rocket launch in December or a nuclear test on 12 February.

North Korea's direct air links with other countries are extremely limited, with China the main conduit for most travellers heading to Pyongyang.

Air Koryo also flies to the Czech Republic, Hungary, Malaysia, Switzerland, Russia and Thailand, according to its website.

However, North Korea is not a cheap tourist destination as high prices are charged for everything from beer to accommodation.