Those looking for truly exclusive destinations may wish to check out the first stand representing North Korea at the World Travel Market next month in London.
What many consider to be the most secretive state in the world will have its ski slopes, temples and hotels on show at WTM, courtesy of Experience North Korea.
Shanghai-based Nathalie Armengol, Managing Partner of Experience North Korea, will be heading the push at WTM and aims to meet travel buyers and challenge perceptions about the country.
“We always joke and say that going to North Korea is like going to another planet. So, effectively, it’s the cheapest trip to outer space you can buy,” Armengol says.
Founded three years ago, Experience North Korea works with travel agencies and tour operators around the world to offer tours to a country in the grips of dictatorship of Kim Jong-Un, the latest in the Kim dynasty that has ruled the isolated country for decades.
Armengol claims she will show WTM delegates how travel to North Korea is safe and “very straightforward”.
“Images promoted by Western media are not always accurate and are always negative,” she said.
“We can take you there, so that you can form your own opinion: see it for yourself. We are experienced in the B2B sector and understand the needs of the trade.”
Fewer than 5,000 foreigners enter North Korea each year and all of Experience North Korea’s trips begin and end in Beijing, where customers obtain their visas, and then flights to Pyongyang are with Air Koryo or Air China.
Other routes in to the secretive country include via Vladivostok and Shenyang, and there are talks about services from Shanghai.
World Travel Market, Senior Exhibition Director, Simon Press (pictured) welcomed Experience North Korea to World Travel Market.
“It’s great to see a spotlight turned on tourism in North Korea, as our industry can bring huge benefits,” he said.
“I am confident that WTM will help Experience North Korea with its pioneering plans, and ensure plenty of business deals are signed, which will increase the country’s exposure and the number of visitors to possibly the world’s most isolated country.”
It is unlikely, however, that the tours at this stage will include conferencing Pyongyang-style.
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