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China, North Korea Show Signs of Boosting Tourism Cooperation

Both China and North Korea are appearing to further intensify cooperation in the field of tourism sector between the two countries, despite the United Nations sanctions’ being slapped on Pyongyang, sources said here on Thursday.

Sources told Yonhap News Agency that a delegation, comprising senior officials of North Korea’s General Administration of Civil Aviation and a tour agency associated with Air Koryo, North Korea’s national airline, had visited Guangdong Province in China in July in an effort to strengthen cooperation in tourism between the two nations.

The North Korean officials had also called on the top officials of Guangdong China Travel Service Co., a leading tour agency in southern China. The General Administration of Civil Aviation comes under the North Korean government and looks after international aviation and travel services.

Sources added that the two sides had discussed on the current trends and development of the tourism industries in China and North Korea, wherein they agreed to promote North Korean travel services and products for the Chinese tourists.

“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. 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,” a source was quoted by Yonhap News Agency, as saying.

Currently, three Chinese cities are connected by Air Koryo – Beijing, Shanghai and Shenyang. Owing to popular demand, the number of weekly flights on the Pyongyang-Shenyang route has been recently increased from two to three, while train seats on Pyongyang-Beijing route have been almost booked out.

After months of tensions between Beijing and Pyongyang, especially on the latter’s nuclear development programme, China seemed to have fulfilled its promise of giving “large scale” aid to North Korea.

According to Chinascope, Beijing reopened its aid to Pyongyang in the form of fertiliser, food, and cooking oil, after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s surprise visit to China in June.

On July 10, North Korea established a free trade market at its China border in Rason city, where Chinese people can enter without obtaining a visa. This free trade market has enabled Pyongyang to obtain the much-needed foreign currencies.

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