President’s DPRK visit expected to lift tourism

Tour operators and businessmen said they will seize opportunities as ties between China and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea have progressed after President Xi Jinping’s recent visit.

“The president’s visit to the DPRK will definitely boost tourism,” said Che Yinghe, general manager of InDPRK Travel Agency, a tourism company in Dandong, Liaoning province, that specializes in tours to the DPRK.

He said that in the past, many Chinese tourists worried that it might not be safe to travel to the DPRK, but the recent visit has shown the public that the country is stable and it wishes to promote peace and security.

“I believe the visit will not only boost tourism but also enhance exchanges,” said Che, who has been busy organizing tailor-made tours for young students during summer vacation.

Senlinshan International Travel Service in Hunchun, a city on China’s border with the DPRK and Russia in Jilin province, has seen a growing number of Chinese tourists visit the DPRK this year. It conducts up to 10 tours to the DPRK every day, each with 30 to 40 tourists, said Yang Jingang, general manager of the travel agency.

Meanwhile, border crossings between China and the DPRK in Hunchun have been open, even on weekends, for the past three years as tourism ties between the countries builds.

Mayor Zhang Jifeng said Hunchun will continue to boost the tourism industry and other service industries, develop China-DPRK cross-river tourist routes and establish a national tourism demonstration zone in 2019. The border city will strive to achieve growth of more than 15 percent this year in both tourist arrivals and tourism revenue, he said.

Zhou Linqing, who has specialized in cross-border trade with the DPRK since 2008, is also optimistic.

“Although sanctions imposed by the United Nations will limit areas of cooperation between China and the DPRK, there will be more business opportunities than before because our leader has said that China will enhance cooperation in economic development with the DPRK,” said Zhou, who returned to Dandong from the DPRK on Saturday after a business trip.

In August and September, the UN Security Council imposed two sets of sanctions on the DPRK, looking to exert economic pressure. The sanctions banned the export of coal, iron, lead and seafood, and also limited imports of crude oil and refined petroleum products. Moreover, they prohibited DPRK nationals from working overseas. The council has passed a number of similar resolutions since the DPRK conducted its first nuclear test in 2006.

“China and the DPRK enjoy geographic proximity and profound friendship. I believe that we will go further in cultural exchanges,” said Zhao Jide, director of the Institute of Ethnic Musical Instruments in Yanji, capital of Yanbian, the largest Korean autonomous prefecture in China.

The institute was established 20 years ago and is responsible for the research and development as well as the production and improvement of more than 40 kinds of Korean instruments including the long drum, vertical bamboo flute and gayageum, a zither-like instrument.

Zhang Leisheng, an associate professor of the Institute of Higher Education in Jilin University, said that China and the DPRK can promote exchanges for teachers and students, expand government-funded scholarships and invite outstanding Korean students to study in China.


By Cui Jia