North Korea tourism 'booming', according to North Korea
Chinese tourists take photos on the old Sino-Korean Friendship bridge, that used to link North Korea to China. Photo: AFP
Foreign tourism is "booming" in North Korea, state media says, a week after the country triggered global outrage by conducting its third nuclear test.
The number of foreign visitors to the North has grown steadily since 2000 and witnessed a surge after 2009, especially in the number of European visitors, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said on Tuesday.
"The global popularity of tourism to (North Korea) is booming," the agency said, without providing any breakdown on the number of visitors.
A range of "shining, socialist accomplishments" made under the leadership of the ruling Kim family have elevated North Korea's status and sparked interest in travelling to the country, KCNA said.
It did not mention if the "accomplishments" included its long-range rocket launch in December - condemned as a disguised ballistic missile test - or the February 12 nuclear test.
"Most tourists gave positive reviews about their experiences in (North Korea) on the internet and other media ... and the range of travel routes is expanding," KCNA said.
North Korea's direct air links with other countries are extremely limited, with China the main conduit for most travellers heading to Pyongyang.
The state carrier, Air Koryo, also flies to the Czech Republic, Hungary, Malaysia, Switzerland, Russia and Thailand, according to its website.
North Korea is not a cheap tourist destination, as the hard currency-strapped nation charges high prices for everything from beer to accommodation.