North Korea travel firm 'optimisitic' despite ban on all visitors

AOL Travel
North Korea
North Korea

A tour company exhibiting for the first time at next week's World Travel Market (WTM) in London faces a tough task.

For not only is the company trying to promote trips to North Korea it is doing so at a time when the hard-line Communist-run country has just banned all visitors due to the Ebola scare.

Nevertheless, Shanghai-based operator Experience North Korea is optimistic ahead of the four-day travel trade show which opens at ExCeL exhibition centre on Monday.

The company's owner Nathalie Armengol said of the travel ban: "While we have not yet been given a timescale for the reopening of the border, we have been reassured it is a temporary issue until measures are put in place."

North Korea is a particularly hard country to sell as a tourist destination. Visitors cannot go out on their own and there are no mobile phone communications.

Governmental tour guides accompany visitors at all times and there is also little to do at night but stay in your hotel. In addition the wearing of shorts, jeans, sandals and trainers is frowned upon.

But Ms Armengol says visits are "not only possible but safe".

She went on: "We want to change people's minds about North Korea.

"People are really surprised when they visit. You have to respect the rules and stay with your guides. But you will see amazing beauty and untouched nature."

Meanwhile, a holiday confidence survey released ahead of World Travel Market showed that there is growing confidence among job-secure Britons to plan overseas holidays in the next 12 months.

But would-be holidaymakers are still watching their wallets, with the amount likely to be spent on trips abroad only likely to increase marginally.

From foreign exchange company First Rate Exchange and the Institute of Travel & Tourism, the survey showed that 10% of the 5,017 adults polled planned to take more holidays over the next 12 months.

Also, 37% intend to take two trips abroad compared with a figure of 35% a year ago.

But 24% felt their holiday plans could be affected should interest rates rise, but 44% said they would cut spending in other areas so they could take trips overseas.