North Korea enthusiastically promoting tourism industry to attract foreign investments

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)
2013-8-29

The Korean Central News Agency reported on August 24 that a tourism briefing session was held in Pyongyang for the purpose of attracting foreign investment.

The state-run Korea International Travel Company (KITC) opened a briefing session at the Yanggakdo International Hotel to explain the preferential treatment for foreign investments. Officials from various embassies, along with Chinese, English, and German travel agency representatives were present at the briefing session.

Cho Song Gyu, president of Korea International Travel Company, said that “tourism districts will be operated as special tourism zone and all management activities such as customs, tax, communication, and investment protection will be guaranteed in accordance with the special zone law and international standards.” It was said that investments of foreign owned enterprises and joint venture companies are to be given priority.

President Cho added, “There are plans to invite foreign experts to improve other special tourism zones such as Wonsan and Mount Chilbo districts.”

North Korea recently disclosed plans of developing mountains Baektu, Kumgang, and Chilbo, with plans of constructing ski resorts in these areas.

In addition, North Korea’s tourism policy is rapidly changing and significant ease on restrictions can be observed on foreign tourists. Unlike in the past, tourists are now allowed to travel to North Korea at any time of the year, with fewer date restrictions.

Meanwhile, North Korea’s economic journal is attracting attention as it argues for the diversification of foreign investment. This call for diversification might reflect a North Korean concern about China’s growing investment in North Korea’s resource sector.

In the current issue of Kyongje Yongu (Economic Research, July 30 issue), North Korea’s quarterly economic journal, it was stated that “Foreign companies in our country are heavily concentrated in joint ventures with domestic companies in the collection industries and their main interest is in developing natural resources.”

The article analyzed that investments by foreign companies are largely concentrated in natural resources development, as they are trying to secure raw materials necessary for production activities. In addition, the article called for improvements in the method and diversification of foreign investment as it stressed that without any intervention, the situation could lead to negative results.

Most of the foreign investment in North Korea is known to be from China. Last year, gold mining companies and Chinese enterprises signed joint venture agreements one after another, displaying Chinese companies’ growing interest in North Korean mines.

Here is the story from KCNA:

Tourism-related Explanation Session Held in DPRK

Pyongyang, August 24 (KCNA) — A tourism-related explanation session, sponsored by the International Travel Company of the DPRK, took place at the Yanggakdo International Hotel here Saturday.

Present at the session on invitation were staff members of foreign embassies in DPRK and representatives of travel companies from China, Britain, Germany and other countries.

Addressing the session, Jo Song Gyu, head of the International Travel Company of the DPRK, referred to the development of tourism in the DPRK and its policy on tourism.

Mts. Paektu, Kumgang and Chilbo, Wonsan City and other scenic spots and areas in the country have turned into recreation grounds and tourist resorts and a brisk drive is being conducted to further develop them, he noted.

The tourist resorts will be run in the form of special zone for tourism and all the management activities such as passage through boundaries, customs, taxes, communications and investment protection will go by the DPRK’s relevant law on special zones as well as the international rules, Jo said.

He further said that businesspersons and investors of any countries and regions interested in tourism of DPRK would be welcomed and preference be given to private and joint-venture and collaboration businesses.

He also mentioned a plan to invite foreign experts needed for the development and management of the tourist resorts in various parts of the country including Wonsan City and Mt. Chilbo.

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