Last updated: 12:00 PM ET, Mon March 09 2015

North Korea Lifts Ebola Ban on Foreign Visitors

Destination & Tourism | Patrick Clarke | March 09, 2015

North Korea Lifts Ebola Ban on Foreign Visitors

Photo courtesy of Experience North Korea

After four long months, North Korea confirmed last week that it has lifted its Ebola ban, opening its borders to foreign visitors.

And while many travelers are turned off to the idea of exploring the secretive Asian country, there are many more who find it fascinating. 

According to Lizzie Porter of the Telegraph, British tour operator Regent Holidays said that the dozen-plus tours it plans to operate in North Korea this year were "becoming booked up" as a result of the ban being lifted. "Even during the border closure we were taking enquiries and are now very happy to be able to confirm them," said Regent Holidays' North Korea specialist Carl Meadows.

The ban was first announced in October amid worldwide Ebola fears, but now, only those coming from countries directly affected by Ebola or some bordering nations will be subject to a three-week quarantine, according to the U.K. Foreign Office.

Meanwhile, all other visitors to North Korea "will be placed under medical observation for 21 days by the Pyongyang Friendship Hospital."

That observation includes daily medical checks. 

Tour operator Lupine Travel's Dylan Harris said that monitors from the Pyongyang Friendship Hospital "will take the temperatures each morning at the hotel prior to departing for the day’s tour," according to Porter.

Upon arrival in North Korea, all visitors will also be required to fill out basic medical forms and disclose the countries they have visited most recently. 

"The 21-day medical observation statement simply means that should a visitor fall ill, they will be placed under the care of the Pyongyang Friendship Hospital, which is used to treat VIPs and foreign visitors," said Meadows.

Although the announcement is great news for eager travelers hoping to visit North Korea, it unfortunately can't turn back the clock on a pair of disappointing decisions.

It was announced earlier this year that April's Pyongyang Marathon wouldn't feature any foreign runners as a result of the seemingly irrational Ebola fears and that the 2015 Arirang Festival (Mass Games) would be canceled

Both events are popular North Korean tourist attractions. 

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