ULAN BATOR, March 5 (Xinhua) -- Mongolia has been striving to attract more Chinese tourists in a bid to bolster growth in the mining-dependent economy, an official said Tuesday.
Mongolia attracted a total of 529,370 foreign tourists in 2018, up 11.01 percent from the previous year, Dagvajamts Batsukh, head of Ulan Bator's tourism department, told Xinhua in an interview.
More than 30 percent of these foreign tourists were Chinese, said Batsukh, noting that China has been the biggest market for Mongolian tourism for many years.
"Mongolia is said to be one of a few countries which retained its ancient culture and traditions and the nomadic lifestyle. We have a unique chance to develop tourism by promoting the nomadic lifestyle," Batsukh said.
In 2019, the Ulan Bator's tourism department plans to organize many cultural and sporting events to attract more tourists from international markets, especially from China, Batsukh said.
"Particularly, the tourism department is now cooperating with the Chinese side to organize Culture and Tourism Days of Ulan Bator in major cities of China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, like Hohhot, Baotou and Ordos, in late April," he said. "China is the most important market for our country's tourism."
"As China's economy expands rapidly, the number of Chinese citizens visiting other countries has been dramatically increasing. I believe that Mongolia has the full potential to attract more tourists from China," Batsukh said, highlighting his country's geographic location.
In addition, Ulan Bator will organize an annual international motorsports festival entitled the "Steppe wind" on June 8-9 in the city.
At least 100 motorcyclists each from China and Russia are expected to participate in the fifth edition of the festival, he said, adding that 50 motorcyclists from the two countries each attended the festival last year.
But tourism development faces several obstacles, Batsukh told Xinhua.
"The lack of direct flights linking Mongolia and other countries, poor tourism infrastructure and the low human resource are major challenges facing tourism development in the country," the official said, adding that Ulan Bator has been paying special attention to these problems.
Mongolia has set a goal of hosting 1 million foreign tourists and earning 1 billion U.S. dollars from tourism in 2020.