OBG talks to Oyungerel Tsedevdamba, Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism

Ts. Oyungerel, Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism

Interview: Oyungerel Tsedevdamba

How can cooperation between different tourism bodies be improved to raise international awareness of Mongolia as a tourism destination?

OYUNGEREL TSEDEVDAMBA: Our efforts are guided towards realising this. Mongolia is going to be the partner country for ITB Berlin 2015. 

We have tourism authorities established in every province and the ministry has been actively working with several tourism-related and professional associations, like the Mongolian Tourism Association and the Mongolian Hotel Association, on improving the sector’s legislation. 

We are seeking legislation that is protective of tourism sites and at the same time opens the doors for government investment into this sector. A new legislative draft is almost completed and we are looking at submitting it to the cabinet very soon. 

With our new tasks to reform the legislation and to present Mongolia as a fascinating destination at the international trade show, our sector is both quite challenged and excited.

What areas of the sector present the greatest investment opportunities for both local and international investors looking to enter this market?

OYUNGEREL: Mongolia’s tourism sector is currently losing potential visitors due to a lack of internet and online banking services. There are no online schedules for trains, domestic flights or buses, and pricing information. This makes Mongolian tourism less predictable and reliable. We are therefore working to train our industry managers regarding the opportunities on the internet. 

Other areas that present great investment opportunities are green technology for heating of camping sites to boost winter tourism. 

As tourists come to Mongolia to experience our vast landscape and nomadic lifestyle, most of the country’s tourism camps are located in off-grid areas. For this reason, smart and eco-friendly electricity, sewage, water and heating systems are attractive products for the Mongolian market.

With tourism activity mostly seasonal, how is the ministry planning to increase the number of skilled workers in the labour force?

OYUNGEREL TSEDEVDAMBA: It is a challenge for our sector to retain qualified workers as long as the sector is seasonal, because qualified people need to have a yearly salary and there are many other jobs for which they qualify that might better meet their needs.

Mongolia’s national universities are starting to implement good training models for tourism guides, but again this is for short-term positions. Workers need to know that their job is reliable year-around and not seasonal. This is why investment in winter tourism is essential to help us build capacity and develop attractive employment options for future leaders in the sector.

Given the significant number of institutional changes in recent years, how is long-term continuity being ensured?

OYUNGEREL: Tourism is now connecting with sports and culture in a beneficial manner and the general acceptance of our new structural model is quite high. A good example is the temporary dinosaur museum that was set up in Sükhbaatar Square in the summer of 2013, which received up to 10,000 daily visitors, a record for any museum in Mongolia.

In just three months, the museum raised approximately MNT200m ($120,000). This initiative was successful thanks to a combination of culture and tourism expertise, as both areas complement each other. It is important to mention that the tourism industry is currently the largest job provider for the cultural segment in Mongolia, which is a good indicator of the tight relationship between both sectors. I strongly believe this is an effective model and that the government will maintain it going forward.

How can cooperation between different tourism bodies be improved to raise international awareness of Mongolia as a tourism destination?

OYUNGEREL: Our efforts are guided towards realising this. Mongolia is going to be the partner country for ITB Berlin 2015. We have tourism authorities established in every province and the ministry has been actively working with several tourism-related and professional associations, like the Mongolian Tourism Association and the Mongolian Hotel Association, on improving the sector’s legislation. We are seeking legislation that is protective of tourism sites and at the same time opens the doors for government investment into this sector. A new legislative draft is almost completed and we are looking at submitting it to the cabinet very soon. With our new tasks to reform the legislation and to present Mongolia as a fascinating destination at the international trade show, our sector is both quite challenged and excited.

What areas of the sector present the greatest investment opportunities for both local and international investors looking to enter this market?

OYUNGEREL: Mongolia’s tourism sector is currently losing potential visitors due to a lack of internet and online banking services. There are no online schedules for trains, domestic flights or buses, and pricing information. This makes Mongolian tourism less predictable and reliable. We are therefore working to train our industry managers regarding the opportunities on the internet. Other areas that present great investment opportunities are green technology for heating of camping sites to boost winter tourism. As tourists come to Mongolia to experience our vast landscape and nomadic lifestyle, most of the country’s tourism camps are located in off-grid areas. For this reason, smart and eco-friendly electricity,

Anchor text: 
Oyungerel Tsedevdamba

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The Report: Mongolia 2014

Tourism chapter from The Report: Mongolia 2014

Cover of The Report: Mongolia 2014

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