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N. Korea's Ebola travel ban takes toll on Chinese tour firms

Chinese travel firms specializing in tours to North Korea have been bearing the brunt of dwindling revenues as the North continues to ban all foreigners from visiting the country due to fears over the spread of the deadly Ebola virus, according to a Chinese state media report on Saturday.

Reclusive North Korea began barring foreign tourists from entering the country on Oct. 23 and required all foreigners visiting the North to be put under quarantine for 21 days as a precaution against the spread of Ebola.

In a report from Dandong, the Chinese border city connected to North Korea's Sinuiju by rail, the state-run China News Service said it is still unknown when the North will lift the ban on foreign tourists.

About 60,000 Chinese people were estimated to travel to North Korea via Dandong a year because the Chinese border city has the shortest rail route to the North.

An official at a major Chinese travel company in Dandong told the Chinese media that, "As the entry ban has continued for more than 40 days, our revenues have nosedived."

More than 500 Chinese tourists were stranded in Dandong on Oct. 24, a day after North Korea banned foreign tourists from entering the country, according to the report.

In 2003, North Korea closed its borders for several months because of the spread of the SARS virus. (Yonhap)

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