38 million USD to be invested in ecotourism development

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The government sealed a 38 million USD loan deal with the Asian Development Bank on June 13 to develop ecotourism in Khuvsgul Lake National Park and Onon-Balj National Park.

Through the project loan, the two national parks will be transformed to serve as models for economically inclusive development and conservation in the country.

Minister of Finance Ch.Khurelbaatar and ADB Country Director for Mongolia Yolanda Fernandez Lommen inked the agreement in Ulaanbaatar last Thursday with members of the ADB Board of Directors, led by Executive Director Kshatrapati Shivaji, standing witness to the event. Representatives from the Ministry of Environment and Tourism also attended.

“This marks ADB’s first project loan in Mongolia to focus on tourism and protected area management,” said Lommen. “ADB’s support promotes the country’s strategies and efforts to diversify the economy, improve climate-resilient infrastructure, protect the environment, and increase economic opportunities for residents in rural areas.”

The project is expected to benefit around 11,000 residents in addition to improving local environmental conservation and climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts. Khuvsgul Lake in Khuvsgul Lake National Park is Mongolia’s largest freshwater resource, while Onon-Balj National Park is the birthplace of Chinggis Khaan.

In 2017, tourism comprised 11.4 percent of Mongolia’s GDP, while generating 1.2 billion USD in revenue and providing 121,500 jobs. Developing tourism is one of the government’s priorities aimed to diversify the economy. By 2028, tourism is forecast to provide 11 percent of GDP, 2.1 billion USD in revenue, and provide 149,000 jobs. International visitors alone are expected to double to one million by then.

The loan will be used to finance the Sustainable Tourism Development Project, which is directed to improve planning for community-based tourism that will both support visitors and create local income generation opportunities. It will also upgrade tourism infrastructure, including tourism centers such as the Chinggis Khaan Tourism Complex and ticket booths, install toilets and other waste management facilities that will benefit both tourists and the host communities, as well as improve park management to safeguard wilderness areas. It will also pilot test Mongolia’s first tourism concession manuals and eco-certification programs for protected areas.

Dulguun Bayarsaikhan