D. Gantumur: “The Years to Visit Mongolia” will be a Stimulus for the Rapid Recovery of TourismThe Mongol Messenger
Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/. The MONTSAME News Agency interviewed Cultural Envoy of Mongolia and President of the Mongolian Tourism Association, D. Gantumur.
- It has been over a
year since you were appointed as the Cultural Envoy of Mongolia. What defines
the cultural policy in the travel and tourism industry during post-pandemic difficulties?
- There is no particular envoy of the travel and tourism industry, but tourism is a target market representing Mongolia. This industry clarifies why tourists should come to Mongolia, attracts foreign investment, and becomes a bridge of culture, diplomatic relations, and business. Tourism revenue contributes to the national GDP and supports local communities and small and medium enterprises. Therefore, tourism is the envoy that represents the culture. The cultural envoy signs a 5-year contract with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and reports annually. It means that the cultural envoy accepts additional duties and responsibilities to their work.
Moreover, the Cultural Envoy makes a unique contribution to the geopolitical, political, and economic policies of any country, sometimes it becomes an invisible means. The primary approach of Mongolia is to maintain an economy, trade, and foreign relations balanced and not overly dependent on any country and to become a corridor region for Central Asia. Our tourism depends on 3 markets: China, Russia, and South Korea. Our country receives more than 100,000 tourists from each of these countries. However, it is not good to carry out a cultural policy that depends on over yen and yuan economy. Cultural cooperation is the first step towards sustainable and mutually beneficial balanced policies with neighboring countries. Tourism is an industry where you can earn US dollars from what you have in your country. For example, if a Russian tourist like the taste of meat while traveling in Mongolia, they can become a future buyer. The cultural policy should be coordinated with the third neighbor’s policy since this is tourism’s role. Mongolian culture offers a vital contribution to people’s mental development. Which procedure should be carried out in a particular country relies on the activities of the cultural envoy. Tourism will make commodities out of it and create a shared passageway. We must preserve and develop Mongolia’s advantages, such as nature-related freedom, democracy, and human rights, to benefit the Mongolian people.
- Mongolia opened its borders in February 2022. What are you currently working on?
- During the pandemic, the domestic production of Mongolia was de-escalated, and world countries were not fully open. The situation in our Northern neighbor is complicated, and the “zero covid” policy in our Southern neighbor is continuing. During this period, I worked online and researched how to introduce Mongolia to the world. I was selected for Mongolian culture and tourism projects of the World Bank, JICA, European Union countries, and the United Nations, and I did some expert research. I created a business model for managing the tourism economy in Mongolia, obtained a Doctor of Science degree in culture and tourism, and expanded my theoretical and methodological knowledge in art philosophy, the development of creative cultural production, and tourism promotion to the world. Moreover, the Ministry of Environment and Tourism and I jointly organized business meetings and cultural tourism promotions for South Korea, Japan, and Turkey.
I will organize a meeting of cultural envoys soon to discuss how to express our country to the world based on Mongolian cultural distinctions. A National Tourism Development Committee was established under the Prime Minister of Mongolia. It has 6 subcommittees. The committee will focus on promoting Mongolia based on slogans, brands, names, and the meaningful image of our country. I am researching what regular travel activities can be organized for tourists and what should be done, focusing more on the business and organizational management aspects.
- The Government of Mongolia announced 2023 and 2024 as “The Years to Visit Mongolia.” What are the main works to be done in this regard?
- Mongolia announced 2023 and 2024 as “The Years to Visit Mongolia” and approved the slogan “Welcome to Mongolia.” With this announcement, the government aimed to give state support to promoting Mongolia, bind the promotion and activities of many different industries into one policy, and increase the budget and workforce for this activity. On the other hand, the declaration of “The Years to Visit Mongolia” has the political importance of taking the lead to the State and moving forward during this time of tourism industry breakdown.
Many objects need to be improved, such as the standards of tourist services, availability of air transport, seats, prices, etc., implementation of the “Vision 2050” development policy by specific industries, and what advantages and positivity need to be formed for individuals. Therefore, the government and the private sectors need to work together to liberalize the business industry and develop the free business simulation. Our responsibility is to find a model that does not overextend the involvement of the public and private sectors and eventually pays off for the local citizen. We should be more specific in announcing the visiting year to contribute the number of transportation and its policy, and so many reception services when we receive so many thousand tourists from South Korea, instead of making just a slogan. Before the tourisb season begins, we are trying to solve problems and create the next model. The goal is to receive one million tourists next year.
- How appropriate is it that the government announced “The Years of Visit Mongolia” when the travel and tourism industry has not yet recovered its workforce, domestic flights, and activities for tourists after the pandemic?
- It is true that the tourism industry has lost workforce and personnel from the lockdown during the pandemic. Moreover, companies are unable to pay their bank debts, health, and social insurance. Even though the government encourages developing winter tourism, it needs to take into account how much burden of energy, land and real estate business owners take. Identifying and mobilizing a way to recover quickly and sharply instead of repeating the pandemic’s severity is crucial. “The Years to Visit Mongolia” will be a stimulus for this. Some things take time, such as the country’s infrastructure and internal competition, but those who do things faster get more successful.
- Before the pandemic, the number of tourists to our country reached about 570,000. Was there any target numbers to reach this year?
- Tourism is hugely dependent on different seasons in Mongolia. Tourists come only in the months of June, July, August, and September. You must make a reservation well in advance to be able to find a tourist camp, hotel, or service center during the Naadam festival. The dependence is high in this industry. In addition, the price of air transportation, the availability of domestic and international flights, and the guaranteed and stable seating terms make the tourism business difficult. There is a reason behind these fundamental factors, but there is also a solution. I do not think there is a country that received half the number of tourists they received before the pandemic. As of today, Mongolia received about 300,000 tourists. There were people who doubted the numbers asked whether the Russians should be counted as tourists. According to the World Tourism Organization, if a person gets a tourist visa when entering a country and leave within that period, that person will be counted as a tourist. In that sense, that person is regarded as a tourist. Of course, the situation is way better compared to the past two years when there were no tourists.