Monday, 13 March 2017

NORTH KOREA: Missile Tests, North Korea Enjoys More Bookings From Tour Companies

Regent Holidays, which has taken more people to North Korea than any other UK tour operator, said bookings to the state were surging.

Visits are closely monitored and some tourists have even been jailed for “crimes” like leaving a bible behind or stealing a poster.

But experts say the fascination with “bizarre, outrageous and extreme” destinations is big enough to keep Brits coming.

Carl Meadows, a Regent Holidays guide who’s been to North Korea more than 20 times, explained the appeal.

“Our average client travelling to North Korea will not be put off by the recent missile tests.

"Our visitors are normally well informed and open-minded, and are keen to see for themselves what lies behind the many myths.

"We tend to find that whenever any news breaks about North Korea, interest in and bookings for our tours rise accordingly," he added.

Peter Wiltshier, a senior tourism lecturer at Derby University, said tour operators in the UK, Ireland and Israel had seen more interest in "axis of evil" countries.

It doesn’t matter that you are escorted everywhere on tour in North Korea – maybe that’s actually part of the fascination.

Visitors are excited by the despotic thrill despite some concerns over things such as human-rights violations and existing international sanctions.

There are still ‘collectors of countries’ in the way some used to collect football cards. Others will just enjoy exclaiming about being in a prison.

Others are just bored with conventional holidays and are accepting the peer challenge to get there or be square, Mr Wiltshier added.

Tourism to North Korea remains an unusual choice, but Pyongyang has been courting visitors with new facilities in recent years.

Guests can now chill at the £29m Masikryong Ski Resort, or sunbathe on the beaches of Wonsan, Kumgang and Hamhung.

However, recently-published images suggest that one destination – the Majon resort – is not all it cracked up to be.