TRAVEL companies eyeing North Korea’s tourism market have welcomed news that the new terminal at Pyongyang International Airport will be completed by end-2015.
State-run media reported that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un recently visited the site of Terminal 2 at the airport and "expressed satisfaction over its construction".
Nicholas Bonner, who set up Beijing-based Koryo Tours in 1993, said: “We are expecting inbound tourism into North Korea to increase by around 10 per cent a year for the next few years, in part because there is such interest in the destination, but also because the North Korean authorities do seem to be keen to bring more people in."
Koryo Tours took 270 people into the North Korean capital in mid-April for the second-ever Pyongyang Marathon, where a record 650 foreign runners competed this year. North Korea has already indicated that it wants to increase this figure to 1,000 in 2016.
"The Pyongyang airport is able to cope at the moment, with its one luggage carousel and four immigration booths, but once you start getting regular flights coming in and several hundred people arriving all at once, they are going to need bigger and better facilities," Bonner added.
Geoffrey Tudor, an analyst for Japan Aviation Management Research, told TTG Asia e-Daily that while North Korea would benefit from the foreign currency brought in by the rising tourist arrivals, the airport needs better infrastructure to cope with the influx. “Revamping the existing facilities at Pyongyang airport would go some way to doing that, but a new terminal is a wise move.”