North Korea Tourism Down 37%

North Korea Tourism Down 37%North Korea Tourism Down 37%

Tourist numbers in North Korea fell by 37% last year with would-be visitors terrified of being detained by its brutal regime, eTurbonews reported.

The fall from 6,134 to 3,851 was also blamed on North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s obsession with Ebola, as well as anti-immigration policies and his executions of officials who displease him.

A tour boss said the drastic anti-Ebola quarantine that virtually shut off the country from October 2014 to March had a “knock-on” effect, adding: “North Korea is unpredictable, scaring off many potential visitors.”

Another tour rep told of “fear that people may be at risk of being detained and arbitrarily held for an indefinite time”.

The tiny number of visitors - most of whom are from China - is despite a supposed tourism ‘push’ when Kim first came to power, including a new ski resort.

“If each tourist handed over 2,000 dollars directly to the North Korean government, we would be talking about 7 million dollars a year,” said Curtis Melvin, a researcher at the US Korea Institute in Washington.

In contrast, the secretive state’s trade with China last year was worth 6 billion dollars, with the economy valued at 30-40 billion dollars.

One obvious loser in the visitor slump is the recently built Masik-ryong ski resort, the brainchild of Kim, said to have been inspired by his studies in Switzerland. It was supposed to be getting 5,000 visitors per day, but is hardly used.