A DELEGTION of 20 officials from North Korea enjoyed a fact-finding road trip earlier this month from the French border through Barcelona and Valencia to Alicante, seeking ideas and inspiration as the country plans its own large beach resort in Wonsan, a port city on the country’s eastern coast.
According to a spokesman for the North Korean embassy based in Madrid, the delegation was “amazed by the dimensions” of Benidorm’s towers and holiday parks, but added that the Marina d’Or enclosed tourism complex in Oropesa del Mar was the closest match to their plans in Wonsan, “aimed at the domestic and international markets”.
The delegation apparently showed little or no interest in Barcelona, ignoring such architectural wonders of Antoni Gaudí or the famous Rambla boulevard.
“We wanted to focus on the beaches because that is what we are interested in,” the embassy spokesman said.
The delegation was, however, captivated by the Benidorm history-based theme park Terra Mítica, suggesting that Wonsan may one day boast an amusement park showing how North Korea evolved to perfection on the shoulders of its Asian forerunners.
“They loved the recreation of the various ancient Mediterranean civilisations. It would be very interesting to apply that concept in our theme park, maybe with Asian civilisations,” the embassy said.
In Benidorm, as well as visiting the resort’s towering hotel buildings, the group went to a local campsite, where they left some clues about the kind of accommodation North Koreans may be using when the Wonsan complex is ready.
According to a report as part of the online newspaper El Confidencial, Matías Pérez Such, one of the trip organisers said: “They asked many detailed questions about the costs of each element in the campsite. If they want to develop tourism, it’s logical that they start from the bottom up with campsites and not 55-floor hotels. But it’s positive that they want to stop being the most hermetic country in the world,” Mr Pérez Such added.
“Tourism breaks down barriers.”