Friday, August 15, 2014

Mongolia targets Chinese to boost tourism: minister

Mongolia plans to develop tourism in provinces adjacent to China first as the country aims at attracting visitors through its unique nomadic culture, said Tsedevdamba Oyungerel, Mongolia's minister of culture, sports and tourism.

More than 100,000 Chinese tourists visited Mongolia last year, accounting for some 20 percent of the total visitors to the country, Oyungerel said in an exclusive interview with the Global Times on Monday.

Despite Mongolian government's wish to develop tourism, facilities in some areas, such as hotels and restaurants, still lag behind and are incapable to cater the increasing number of visitors, she noted.

"To achieve our goal, we plan to focus our attention and develop tourism in provinces adjacent to China first, such as in Dornod Province and Suhbaatar Province," she said.

The move might help Mongolia attract more Chinese tourists as visitors from China are the largest tourist group in the country, followed by tourists from Europe, Russia and Japan.

Both Dornod and Suhbaatar provinces are adjacent to China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

The Steppes in Dornod Province are known as one of the best places for stargazing due to the clear sky and Suhbaatar Province hosts a wide variety of birds, making it quite popular among bird-watchers and ornithologists, Oyungerel said.

"Mongolia has successfully preserved its nomadic culture, which will be a distinctive feature of our tourism industry," she noted.

The minister also stressed the importance of cooperation between the two countries as China and Mongolia recently signed an agreement to repair an ancient Buddhism pagoda located in Dornod Province that dated back to the Kitai era in the 10th and 11th century.

Oyungerel's statement came over a week before Chinese President Xi Jinping's first State visit to Mongolia since he took office.

Cultural exchanges between China and Mongolia have increased significantly over the past years. In 2010, China completed the construction work for a gymnasium in Ulaanbaatar with a seating capacity of 5,000 people. The gymnasium is said to be the largest in Mongolia.

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