Mongolia has had three difficult years following a “mini-boom” which took place in 2011/2012. Since then, the number of inbound arrivals has been in decline, mainly because of the difficult economic situation in Russia and China, the country’s two leading source markets. Arrivals from China recovered in 2015, but arrivals from Russia continued to see a significant decline, leaving a further gap in the market.
Mongolia faces two major challenges which includes the high seasonality of the destination whereby the weather is extremely cold during the winter season, keeping tourists away for much of the year. The other challenge is that the ideal time to visit Mongolia is between June and August, when many international travellers opt for seaside destinations. Mongolia has therefore been unable to diversify its tourist base away from China, Russia and a few other Asian markets, causing a further headache for industry players.
Many regional countries are emerging as new and exciting destinations for global travellers, including Myanmar, Cambodia, and Laos. All of these countries are experiencing strong growth, infrastructure developments, and government incentives and investments aimed at boosting their respective travel industries. Long haul and short haul travellers alike are choosing these destinations, especially in light of the poor transportation network into Mongolia.
The widely anticipated Ulaanbaatar International Airport is expected to be completed sometime in 2016 or early 2017, boosting the passenger capacity from one million to more than three million. This will allow more airlines to enter the market, as well as allowing national carriers to expand. MIAT Mongolian Airlines is the leading national carrier and it celebrated 60 years of operations in 2015. However, it remains very small with a fleet of just five aircraft catering to eight destinations. The airline held a monopoly for a long time, but new airlines are beginning to launch routes to Mongolia, albeit very slowly.
The lodging industry has also remained rather underdeveloped, with the vast majority being local independent and unrated hotels and hostels. Guesthouses are favoured by backpackers and adventure travellers, while a new type of lodging which is being offered via platforms like Airbnb include Ger camps, which are based on a type of tent that is traditionally used by nomads in central Asia. Meanwhile, one significant new opening in 2015 was the Shangri La’s 5-star outlet, which has a shopping mall and centre making it an all-inclusive destination for business and leisure tourists.
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Health and Wellness Tourism
Tourism Flows Domestic
Tourism Flows Inbound
Tourism Flows Outbound
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