ULAN BATOR, Feb. 10 (Xinhua) -- Mongolia has pinned high hopes for its tourism recovery after Chinese tourists gradually returned to the country.
"China is the main market for Mongolia's tourism sector. For many years, China has ranked first in terms of tourist numbers in our country," Damba Gantumur, president of the Mongolian Tourism Association, told Xinhua.
The tourism sector is of strategic importance for the further development of Mongolia's social and economic sectors, Gantumur said, adding that the Mongolian government has been taking various measures to promote the development of tourism, which suffered from the epidemic.
The Asian country has set a goal of attracting at least one million foreign tourists and earning one billion U.S. dollars from tourism in the coming years, he said.
The Mongolian government and its tourism-related businesses have been working to improve their services, products and competitiveness in order to welcome more foreign tourists, especially the tourists from China.
Jargal Purevsuren is a director of a tour operator, Pocket Travel, an experienced agency in Mongolia.
"We have been improving our marketing management strategies to attract as many tourists from China as possible in the coming years. Many Chinese tourists are booking tours to experience our country's nomadic lifestyle, pristine nature and scenic places," said Purevsuren.
Around 50 tour operators in Mongolia have recently established a council to explore ways to improve their management in order to attract Chinese tourists, said Purevsuren, who also leads the council.
Mongolians are also interested in traveling to China, she said, adding that the council have made a proposal to organize a tourism forum between the two countries every year.
Amgalan Enkhzul is a director of another tour operator, Zuut Travel.
"The world tourism industry is looking forward to welcoming Chinese tourists again. I am sure that our country will receive a large number of tourists from China this year," said Enkhzul.
The Zuut Travel, which sent its first group tour of Mongolian tourists to China in late January, is now expecting the first group tour from China in March after a three-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.
In order to promote cross-border tourism with China and Russia, "Mongolia is offering 72-hour visa-free travel to Chinese citizens," Enkhzul added.
Mongolia received a total of around 577,300 foreign tourists in 2019, hitting an all-time high, according to the Mongolian Ministry of Environment and Tourism. More than 30 percent of the foreign tourists are from China.
Mongolia has declared 2023, 2024 and 2025 as "The Years to Visit Mongolia" under the official motto "Welcome to Mongolia," and hopes to diversify and develop its economy through tourism. ■