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Unusual destination

North Korea attempts to attract tourists at Bern fair

North Korea will showcase its tourist offerings at the Bern Holiday Fair opening on January 15. A delegation from the country’s ministry of tourism will be present to encourage Swiss tourists to visit the Hermit Kingdom.

The organisers of the tourism fair discussed at length whether to offer North Korea a platform, said the fair’s spokesperson, Adrian Hault, in an interview with Swiss public television, SRF, on Tuesday.

“We concluded that every country should have the opportunity to use this platform. We assume that visitors are mature enough to decide if they want to travel to the country or not,” said Hault.

He also offered the example of Burma as a justification. There, interaction between tourists and locals has helped soften rigid laws and improve living conditions, he said.

The contact with North Korea was facilitated by the Globetrotter travel agency, which has been offering guided trips to the country in recent years.

Tourists cannot travel on their own in North Korea. They must book an organised trip through the state travel agency and are always accompanied by an official guide.

Even with the best efforts of the North Korean tourism delegation, it is unlikely that the country will be seeing an influx of Swiss tourists anytime soon. According to the Swiss foreign ministry’s latest advice for travellers, all foreign visitors to North Korea will be subjected to quarantine of several weeks to prevent Ebola from entering the country. 

swissinfo.ch and agencies


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