The United States is set to implement and enforce a ban on all US citizens travelling to North Korea according to a statement from Young Pioneer Tours, a travel agency based in China which offers Americans and others the opportunity to go on sightseeing tours of North Korea.
The statement was further confirmed by Koryo Tours agency which offers similar tours of North Korea.
Simon Cockerell, the general manager of the Beijing based Koryo Tours gave the following statement,
“It’s a pity, because if you’re pro-human engagement, there’s nothing anywhere near as good as human contact as a tool to combat media narratives about what people from other places are like.
Unfortunately, the representation of Americans in official (North Korean) state media is horribly negative,” he continued. “One thing counteracting this – for the few people who can interact with them – is human level contact. And that now is not an option”.
The move is a blow to curious travellers as well as those interested in overcoming political divides through cultural enrichment and educational opportunities.
Others have stated that the move is primarily motivated to keep US hard-currency out of North Korea at a time when Washington seeks to impose further sanctions on Pyongyang.
It is estimated that 1,250 Americans visit North Korea per-year, an average calculated based on recorded visits between 2010, when Pyongyang lifted tourism restrictions for US passport holders and the present day. The annual turnover from US tourism in North Korea is said to be worth $1.9 million per annum.
Further sanctions on Pyongyang are staunchly opposed by two of North Korea’s neighbours, China and Russia.
The tour companies stated that they received their information from the Swedish consulate in Pyongyang which handles business relating to the US as the American government has no diplomatic relations with North Korea.
Neither Washington nor Pyongyang have officially made a statement on the issue.