Mongolia’s tourism potential

Tourists watching Naadam festival

Last month, Mongolia ranked seventh in the list of the top ten countries to travel in 2017 claimed by Lonely Planet, the largest travel guide book publisher in the world.

Terror attacks in top European and Asian tourist destinations such as France, Germany, Turkey, Thailand, and India in recent years are keeping tourists away.

The Telegraph published a story few days ago in which Mongolia was one of the 17 unusual destinations where terror threat is low.

When former President of the USA Bill Clinton was asked what his bucket list is, he said that he wanted to ride a horse across the Mongolian steppes, try to imagine what it was like to be in Chinggis Khaan’s horde.

Profiting from tourism

State policy is very important in developing tourism. Creating the legal and regulatory environment to provide tourists safety, security, and comfortable condition; improve tourist infrastructure facilities; enhance capacity to receive tourists; improving tourism service quality; and carrying out a marketing campaign to attract tourists play a crucial role in the tourism industry’s growth.

Mongolia’s effort for developing tourism

The government of Mongolia issued a resolution offering visa facilities to tourist groups organized by travel agencies contracted by the government and ministries.

The Ministry of Environment and Tourism, World Tourism Organization, and World Cities Scientific Development Alliance jointly organized the International Silk Road Conference on Nomadic Tourism and Sustainable Cities in Ulaanbaatar in October last year to address the potential of nomadic and sustainable city tourism.

The government is planning to implement a 72-hour visa-free transit policy in Mongolia and to carry out fare reductions for passengers taking direct flight to Ulaanbaatar through MIAT from October 1 to May 1.

The government also plans establish a state-owned tourism development center that will help the ministry with tourism policy implementation, conduct studies and surveys to improve tourism operations, and implement tourism development projects and programs.

The state put forward many plans, programs, projects, and activities for tourism but most of them cannot put into action due to financial difficulties.

Why visit Mongolia?

In recent years, Mongolia’s nomadic culture and lifelstyle; magnificent and untouched nature, Chinggis Khaan’s equestrian statue in Tsonjin Boldog, Naadam festival, winter eagle festival, and cashmere products have been attracting tourists.

Minister of Environment and Tourism D.Oyunkhorol noted that there are over 600 tourism agencies and over 800 camps throughout Mongolia. She said that improving the overall quality of products and services within the tourism industry is of critical importance to improving tourism development. Minister D.Oyunkhorol stressed that the state has to mandate tourist camps and travel agencies to provide tourists with varied quality services that meet international standards.

Foreign Affairs Minister Ts.Munkh-Orgil pointed out that promoting Mongolia abroad is very important to develop tourism, but a very small state funding has been put aside for this. He said that a survey to prepare a smart marketing policy for promoting Mongolia abroad to attract foreign tourists has been conducted by studying practices of international marketing companies. He added that the survey’s results will be presented to the government.

Friedhelm Adler, a German tourist, said last summer, “I have seen a lot of beautiful places such as sand dunes, oasis, and small canyons during my one-week tour in Mongolia’s Gobi, and also visited a giant metal statue of Chinggis Khaan. I was very interested to see how Mongolian nomads live in their beautiful land with my own eyes, and I loved eating the Mongolian national food khorkhog, sheep or goat meat cooked with hot stones inside a milk churn, during my visit to a herder’s family. This trip has been very exciting for me and I will never forget the friendly Mongolian people.”

Developing free competition among tourist companies, improving standards for tourist camps, building tourist infrastructure, improving tourism education of herders, and tackling the problem of crimes against tourists such as pick pocketing and mugging are key areas for Mongolia’s tourism policy.

If Mongolia adopts a smart tourism policy, there is an opportunity for Mongolia to become a central Asian tourist hub.  At the very least, comprehensive tourism programs and projects that help encourage and motivate a large number of Chinese, Russian, South Korean, and Japanese tourists to visit Mongolia are crucial to benefit from the vast natural endowments present in the nation besides mineral resources.