North Korea opens up to Israeli tourists

North Korean soldiers Photo: Reuters

An Israeli tourism company has received an exclusive franchise for issuing official tourist visas for visiting North Korea.

An Israeli tourism company has received an exclusive franchise for issuing official tourist visas for visiting North Korea, which only a few Israelis have visited up until now. Rimon Tours group subsidiary Tarbutu will offer visits to the tyrannical and closed country starting this spring and summer.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated, "There is no travel warning for North Korea, and no specific ban on traveling there. We of course recommend extreme caution, since there are no diplomatic relations with North Korea, but it is not classified as an enemy country."

Tarbutu announced today that four organized tours of North Korea will be held in April-May 2017. The company has an exclusive cooperation agreement with North Korea.

Tarbutu program manager Haim Peres said, "North Korea is without question one of the most fascinating countries in the world today. It is a closed country cut off from the world, including its neighbors. More is unknown than known about the country."

According to figures from Tarbutu, only 100 Israelis have visited North Korea in organized tours. Up until now, Israelis have been granted tourist visas for North Korean only through parties in China. Now, however, KISTC, the North Korean national travel agency, is accepting tourist visas for Israelis.

Low crime rate in a country without ATMs

Tarbutu emphasizes that tourism in North Korea is not affected by political and security events in the country, which last night conducted a ballistic missile test, thereby arousing international indignation. "North Korea is proud about having one of the world's lowest crime rates, and tourists feel very safe there," the company said.

Following the agreement, holders of Israeli passports can obtain a tourist visa for North Korea, although professional journalists and South Korean citizens cannot obtain ordinary tourist visas, and must submit special requests to the authorities. In order to visit North Korea, an Israeli tourist must obtain a tourist visa for China with two entries.

A tourist visiting North Korea can now bring cellphones and mobile computers and use them on the local network, but access to the Internet is exclusively within the country, and international communications are available only at hotels. There are also places where taking photographs is forbidden, mainly for military reasons.

Dollars, euros, and Chinese yuan can be used in North Korea. Tourists are forbidden to use local currency – the "won." Travelers are advised to bring cash with them, because there are no ATMs or currency conversion stands in the country.

Tarbutu is offering April and May vacation and touring packages to North Korea at prices in the $3,850-4,150 range. The prices do not include personal expenses, insurance, or tourist visas to China with two entries (about $75).

Published by Globes [online], Israel Business News - www.globes-online.com - on February 12, 2017

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2017

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North Korean soldiers Photo: Reuters
North Korean soldiers Photo: Reuters
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