Tourist agencies that operate tours for US citizens to North Korea have reported that the government will bring in a ban on visiting the country from next week. Two different agencies have confirmed the ban which is expected to begin on the 27 July.
Koryo Tours and Young Pioneers Tours both said that they had been informed by the government about the impending travel ban. Young Pioneers Tours issued a statement reading: "We have just been informed that the US government will no longer be allowing US citizens to travel to the DPRK (North Korea).
"It is expected that the ban will come into force within 30 days of July 27. After the 30 day grace period any US national that travels to North Korea will have their passport invalidated by their government."
Tensions between the US and North Korea have risen in recent months following a series of major ballistic missile tests by the regime into the Sea of Japan, including an intercontinental missile with the alleged capability of reaching the US mainland.
The death of Otto Warmbier, a US student who had been visiting North Korea, has also sparked outrage. Warmbier, an economics student from the University of Virginia, was given a 15-year prison sentence after attempting to steal a propaganda sign from a hotel. He had been travelling at the time with the Young Pioneer Tours group.
It was revealed in June that Warmbier had been in a coma for several months. His deteriorating condition promoted North Korea to release him back to the US, where he died days later. North Korean officials claimed he had a stroke in the early days of his incarceration and never recovered.
At the time of Warmbier's death, President Trump said: "It's a brutal regime and we'll be able to handle it."
Three other US nationals are still being held by the Kim Jong-un regime. Two of them were teachers at a private school while the third person worked in a special economic zone in North Korea.
It is believed that North Korea has been using the detentions as a bargaining chip in its negotiations with Washington. The US wants North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un to abandon his nuclear and missile programmes.