Exclusive: China curbs tourism to North Korea forward of Trump go to – sources

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Chinese tourists are seen on a boat taking them from the Chinese side of the Yalu River for sightseeing close to the shores of North Korea, near Dandong, Liaoning province, China August 10, 2017. REUTERS/Philip Wen
Chinese
vacationers are seen a ship taking them from the Chinese facet of the
Yalu River for sightseeing near the shores of North Korea,
close to Dandong

Thomson
Reuters


By Sue-Lin Wong and James Pearson

BEIJING/SEOUL (Reuters) – Chinese tour operators primarily based within the
border metropolis of Dandong have been advised to halt journeys to the North
Korean capital Pyongyang, 5 sources advised Reuters on Tuesday,
the day earlier than U.S. President Donald Trump’s first official go to
to China.

Chinese President Xi Jinping will host Trump in Beijing on
Wednesday, with North Korea’s growth of nuclear weapons
anticipated to high their agenda. The United States has been
pressuring China to do extra to rein in its neighbor and ally.

Tourism is among the few remaining methods North Korea earns laborious
forex, because the United Nations has ramped up sanctions on the
nation over the previous 12 months, curbing key export industries
together with coal, seafood and textiles.

“It was very sudden, we had no thought this was going to occur
till we acquired the notification immediately,” stated a Chinese tour
operator who runs journeys to North Korea out of Dandong.

“This is devastating news for us,” he stated, including the order had
come from the Dandong Tourism Bureau.

The sources Reuters interviewed for this story all requested
anonymity due to the sensitivity of the difficulty.

The Dandong Tourism Bureau was not instantly reachable for
remark late on Tuesday. China’s international ministry didn’t
instantly reply to a request for remark despatched after working
hours on Tuesday evening.

Most tour firms that take Chinese vacationers to North Korea are
primarily based in Dandong, the primary buying and selling hub on the Chinese facet of the
border.

Dandong-based tour firms had been advised on Tuesday that, as of
Wednesday, they had been solely permitted to run one-day excursions to
Sinuiju, the North Korean metropolis reverse Dandong, which is a
in style vacation spot for Chinese vacationers making day journeys.

Longer journeys to Pyongyang and different elements of North Korea had been
banned till additional discover, the sources stated. Many Chinese tour
operators run three-day or longer excursions contained in the world’s most
remoted nation.

The sources stated the federal government had not given any official
rationalization for the adjustments.

“It’s off-season proper now, however that is unlikely to be the
purpose,” stated one other Dandong-based tourism supply.

“It’s more likely to be linked to growing sanctions
in opposition to North Korea. We’ll have to attend and see what occurs as soon as
Trump leaves China. Maybe they’ll loosen the principles however it’s
very laborious to say. This is all linked to the rising tensions.”

Earlier this 12 months, the United States banned its residents from
visiting North Korea after American school scholar Otto Warmbier
died shortly after returning to the United States in a coma
following greater than a 12 months in captivity in North Korea. He had
been detained throughout a tour there.

The Korea Maritime Institute, a think-tank within the South,
estimates that tourism generates about $44 million in annual
income for North Korea. About 80 % of all North Korea’s
international vacationers are Chinese, it says.

China stated greater than 237,000 Chinese visited in 2012, however it
stopped publishing the statistics in 2013.

The order doesn’t seem to have an effect on North Korea-focused tour
operators primarily based elsewhere.

“We didn’t receive any notice to halt trips to North Korea,” stated
Rubio Chan of GLO Travel, a Hong Kong-based tour firm which
takes vacationers to North Korea.

“But which may be as a result of we’re primarily based out of Hong Kong and we
work immediately with our companions in Pyongyang.” 

(Editing by Tony Munroe and Alex Richardson)

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