South Korean provinces near North Korea see surge of tourism

South Korean provinces near North Korea see surge of tourism

May 7 (UPI) — Following the two Koreas’ Apr. 27 Panmunjom Declaration on seeking denuclearization and peace on the Korean Peninsula, travel agencies in the South are seeing growing interest in tours to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), and the upper regions of South Korea that border the reclusive North.

According to Jang Seung-jae, Director of DMZ Cultural Center, the number of enquiries on tours to the Demilitarized Zone between South and North Korea have increased 1.5 times, after the inter-Korean summit, compared to the same period in recent years.

Another travel agency which specializes in offering DMZ tours to foreign visitors said the number of enquiries on their packages increased more than twofold, after the Panmunjom Declaration was reached at the Peace House building inside the border area.

More and more people have been visiting observatories in Gangwon and Gyeonggi Provinces that offer a view into North Korea.

The Joint Security Area, inside the demilitarized zone, otherwise known as Panmunjom truce village, has been a popular tourist destination, as visitors get to see South and North Korean soldiers stand face-to-face across the military demarcation line (MDL) that divides the two Koreas.

From Apr. 27 to May 3, online sales of travel packages and accommodation in the northern Gangwon Province increased by 23 percent and 29 percent, compared to the year before, online shopping mall G Market said.

An official of Korea Tourism Organization said it has been running a special tourism development task force ever since the date of the inter-Korean summit was determined in late March.

The organization plans to strengthen tourism programs and infrastructure in both Gangwon and Gyeonggi Provinces by working with local governments, Yonhap reported.