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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Monday, May 28, 2018

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Tourism restarts between China and North Korea

Travel agencies told the first Chinese group tour to Pyongyang

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CHANGCHUN, China -- Tourism between China and North Korea will restart for the first time in six months, according to Chinese tourism authorities in the northeastern province of Jilin.

The announcement followed the lift of North Korea's Ebola-related travel ban that began in October but ended ahead of an international marathon in Pyongyang, to be held this Sunday.

Travel agencies told Xinhua the first Chinese group tour to Pyongyang is scheduled to start on April 13. Day trips to the North Korean city of Manpo are to begin on April 21 from Ji'an.

Xinhua reported more than 3,000 China-based tourists have visited North Korea from the Chinese border town of Ji'an in Jilin province since the 1990s.

Jilin is the site of a new project that will allow tourists inside a special zone to travel to North Korea without a visa for 72 hours.

The Tumen River Delta International Tourism Area, Yonhap reported, is under development with North Korea, Russia and China involved in its construction.

The three governments are negotiating a tax refund policy for visitors in the special zone.

Jilin province has been at the focus of Chinese President Xi Jinping's new "Silk Road Initiative," a measure that could improve China's land-based links to Europe and China's Asian neighbors.

Xinhua reported in February that the Tumen River Delta International Tourism Area is the culmination of an initiative that began in the Chinese city of Hunchun in 2013.

Zhao Xiaojun, a Chinese tourism official in Jilin, said the long-term goal is to invite South Korea, Japan and Mongolia into the zone via highways, railways and air routes.Elizabeth Shim

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