Travel programs in NE China fuel tourism boom to DPRK
                 English.news.cn | 2014-05-07 20:38:41 | Editor: Zhu Ningzhu

CHANGCHUN, May 7 (Xinhua) -- Tourism to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) is booming in northeast China border cities on the back of multiple travel schemes aimed at boosting the regional economy.

On Friday, Zhao Xin beamed with joy as he joined the first group of cyclists from Tumen City, Jilin Province, to DPRK's Namyang city.

Tumen, under the jurisdiction of Yanbian, a Korean autonomous prefecture in Jilin, is separated from DPRK by the Tumen River. The cross-border city is linked with DPRK by highways and railways.

Amid high spirits, Zhao, a travel agent from Yanbian, was among thirty-five Chinese tourists in the DPRK, visiting the Namyang Railway Station, Kim Il-sun' s statue, and enjoying local delicacies in a famous downtown street during a one-day visit.

"The city is quite unique and full of energy," Zhao told Xinhua, hoping that more DPRK cities would join the list of the travel-by-bicycle initiative so that he could enjoy more sightseeing as well as the local gastronomical culture.

For Chen Boyi, taking a train is a splendid choice to tour the neighboring country. Chen said that her excursion during the Workers' Day holiday helped unravel some mysteries of DPRK.

"Namyang is very clean and the local people warm-hearted," Chen, 21, said.

Excursions by train from Tumen to the DPRK's Chilbosan resumed two days before the bicycle tour program. The tourist train was launched in April 2012, but was later suspended.

The train and bicycle tours are the latest effort to ramp up the cross-border tourism.

In April, the city of Ji'an, Jilin, launched regular tourist trains to Pyongyang, Kaesong and Panmunjom in the DPRK, making it the second city after Dandong in the neighboring Liaoning Province with such services.

In 2013, Tumen city simplified applications for non-local visitors, allowing them to enter the DPRK on the same day they arrive in Tumen.

Meanwhile, the DPRK has opened several cities for group tours from China, including Rason, Namyang, Chongjin and the Mount Kumgang.

The schemes have powered the past few years of tourism boom. About 10,000 tourists from Yanbian alone visit the DPRK annually.

With a variety of travel means, it will be more convenient to visit the DPRK, said Ji Run, a tourist who has just wrapped a visit to the country.

"I would like to come back in the future," he said.

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