Following a return to the international stage under the stewardship of Marshal Kim Jong Un, the DPRK is reporting an unprecedented boom in the number of Chinese tourists visiting the heretofore-reclusive country.
Once considered a niche travel destination, Chinese travellers have become increasingly interested in their isolated neighbour, and now travel there in record numbers. Hundreds of Chinese tourists arrive in Pyongyang daily, increasing to thousands during peak periods such as May Day and Grand National Day.
This excludes the border town of Sinuiju — an extremely popular destination for Chinese day-trippers crossing the Yalu River — and visitors crossing at Tumen or Namyang in the north-east.
In mid-September of last year, it was estimated that more than a thousand Chinese tourists visited the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that demarcates the border between North and South Korea.
To facilitate the increased number of Chinese tourists, DPRK carrier Air Koryo has added extra flights to their schedule, and Air China has also begun to offer flights into Pyongyang.
In order to understand the significance of the number of Chinese tourists visiting the country, it is important to note that North Korea sees around 4000-5000 Western tourists per year. This is rapidly paling in comparison to China’s interest in the country, and may entail a commensurate shift in the priorities of KITC (North Korea’s tourism agency).
What does this mean for YPT and its customers? Primarily, it means that demand for train and plane tickets is now much higher than before, and it is accordingly difficult to ensure sufficient allocation for Western tourists wishing to visit the country. It is therefore recommended that tours are booked as soon as possible. In particular, for tours which are expected to feature the overwhelmingly popular Mass Games, we recommend that bookings are made at least three months in advance so as to avoid disappointment.
Given the recent news that the Mass Games are expected to return this September, we strongly suggest booking as far ahead as possible in order to secure your seat at what just might be the greatest show on earth..