North Korea bans all foreign tourists over Ebola fears
PAJU, SOUTH KOREA - OCTOBER 10: (SOUTH KOREA OUT) In this handout provided by the Jang Seong-Yoon-Donga Daily, North Korean defectors, now living in South Korea, prepare to release balloons carrying propaganda leaflets denouncing North
Korea's nuclear test, near the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) on October 10, 2014 in Paju, South Korea. Seoul's military said they exchanged machine gun fire with North Korea on Friday, after the North opened fire toward balloons carrying anti-Pyongyang propaganda leaflets floated across the border. (Photo by Jang Seong-Yoon-Donga Daily via Getty Images)
PYONGYANG, NORTH KOREA - 2013/09/19: Pyongyang's newly built luxury housing for those citizens who are more fortunate in North Korea.
60 years after the Korean War, it is clear that not much has changed in North Korea. The country still remains under heavy censorship, with only a small portion of the population living the life of what we call 'middle class'. The people of North Korea are forced into believing that working for the greater good of the state is the formal way of presenting their national determination. The city of Pyongyang is outdated, with only a handful of cars driven by those who are a bit more fortunate. Propaganda rates are high, with many billboards displaying missiles and world domination regimes. North Korea remains a strictly isolated country where people do not have the privileges that we take for granted. (Photo by Jonas Gratzer/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Fireworks explode above the Pyongyaang skyline during a display to mark the 60th anniversary of the Korean war armistice agreement, in Pyongyang on July 27, 2013. North Korea mounted its largest ever military parade to mark the 60th anniversary of the armistice that ended fighting in the Korean War, displaying its long-range missiles at a ceremony presided over by leader Kim Jong-Un. AFP PHOTO / Ed Jones (Photo credit should read Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images)
The Yanggakdo Football Stadium stands before the Pyongyang city skyline on April 13, 2012. North Korea launched a long-range rocket, South Korea's defence ministry and US officials said, with Japan saying that the launch had appeared to have failed. AFP PHOTO / Ed Jones (Photo credit should read Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images)
PYONGYANG, NORTH KOREA - 1994/04/01: The construction skeleton of what would be the world tallest hotel. Unfortunately, the 105 story Ryuyong Hotel and its five rotating restaurants will likely never open. When personel from Hyatt hotels inspected the site they discovered that the elevator shaft wasn't even straight. (Photo by Gerhard Joren/LightRocket via Getty Images)
PYONGYANG, NORTH KOREA - 1994/02/01: A hotel on the river in Pyongyang. (Photo by Gerhard Joren/LightRocket via Getty Images)
A smartly dressed business woman walks under North Korean flags and the imposing Juche Tower.
Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), North Korea, Pyongyang, Moranbong Theatre, venue of National Symphony Orchestra - Fountain statues detail;
PUNGGYE-RI NUCLEAR TEST SITE, NORTH KOREA - SEPTEMBER 16, 2014: Figure 1-A. DigitalGlobe imagery of the bypass road constructed at the West Portal of the Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site. Date: September 16, 2014 -- published on 38 North. (Photo DigitalGlobe/38 North via Getty Images)
YONGBYON NUCLEAR FACILITY, NORTH KOREA - JUNE 22, 2014: This is Figure 3-2 -- DigitalGlobe imagery of an after photo of the dam failure at the Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center showing sand being excavated for the new dam. Image taken on June 22, 2014 -- published on 38 North (Photo DigitalGlobe/38 North via Getty Images)
This video grab taken from North Korean TV on March 20, 2013 shows a Self-Propelled Suface to Air Missile during North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un's overseeing of a live fire military drill using drones and cruise missile interceptors. Kim Jong-Un oversaw a live fire military drill using drones and cruise missile interceptors, state media said, amid heightened tensions on the Korean peninsula. ----EDITORS NOTE --- RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT ' AFP PHOTO / NORTH KOREAN TV' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS -
AFP PHOTO/HO/NORTH KOREAN TV (Photo credit should read NORTH KOREAN TV/AFP/Getty Images)
North Korea has banned foreign tourists over Ebola fears.
The reclusive regime has reportedly begun denying tourist visas for visitors from abroad, but it is not clear if foreign dignitaries or officials are also banned.
"We have just received official news from our partners in the DPRK that, as of tomorrow, tourists from any country, regardless of where they have recently visited, will not be permitted to enter," Gareth Johnson, of Young Pioneer Tours, told Reuters.
Young Pioneer Tours operates out of Beijing and brings people into North Korea. DPRK is short for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the hermit nation's official name.
KCNA, the DPRK's state-run news agency, announced earlier this year that the country was working to quarantine visitors believed to be suffering from the lethal virus upon arrival into Pyongyang.
"It is unknown how long this closure will be in effect, and due to the very changeable nature of DPRK policy," Nick Bonner of Koryo Tours, a travel group based in Beijing that also specializes in North Korea tours, told Reuters.
"We are still hopeful we will be able to run the three tours we have scheduled for the remainder of 2014."
The North's tourism industry is not exactly booming, but groups do often visit the country.
It has closed its borders in the past to keep deadly outbreaks from ravaging its long-suffering citizens.
"In 2003, the country closed its borders due to the threat of SARS, despite not a single case being reported there," said Bonner.
Nearly 5,000 people have been confirmed dead from Ebola since the most recent outbreak began this summer in western Africa, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). But many believe the number to be significantly higher.
Another 10,000 cases have been reported, and officials said last week they expect the death rate to hit 70 percent in the coming months.