There are no standards set in tourism services

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        A tour operator of Mongolia cooperated with a foreign company manager and organized a trip involving well-known and famous people, however the manager shook his head and said, “Mongolia is not ready yet.” Tourists who came here to get to know Mongolia’s winter stayed at the recreation and tourism complex in Arkhangai Province, which operates throughout the four seasons and is considered the largest in our country. But this was just a name. From the characteristic, attitude and service of the employees, many things did not meet the travelers’ expectations. Although it was a holiday and tourism complex, the electricity and hot water are cut off shortly as they are on, and the food does not arrive on time, leaving foreigners surprised. When the manager from the tour operator company complained to the resort, they almost threatened to kick them out because of their high demands. The young man, who expressed his frustration said, “When the service organizations are in this poor state, our country should not talk or dream about receiving one million tourists.”

This is the reality behind the scenes of our country, which has set a big goal of receiving one million tourists in 2023 and 1.5 million in 2024 and is implementing a comprehensive initiative called “Years to visit Mongolia”. There are almost no places in our country that can comfortably accommodate 10 or 20 people, let alone absorb a million tourists. As a result of increasing the frequency of flights and activating marketing and advertising, the number of foreigners coming to Mongolia has increased and it came with the rising number of criticisms and complaints about tourism services. If we look at it from a positive point of view, it may be an opportunity for us to see our own mistakes clearly and to correct them. On the other hand, if too much unfavorable information about Mongolia continues to spread in the international market, there is a negative possibility that our country will be put on the blacklist. Remember how the comments of the Japanese tourist who was left from the scheduled flight due to the irresponsibility of Mongolian Airlines spread on social media? In this age of so-called information, it is worth remembering that negative comments from one tourist can have strong and negative consequences to block people’s way.

There are 10 standards related to tourism services in our country. Depending on the hotel, tourist camp and resort, the standards of housekeeping and room service are different. There are even standards for general guides, interpreters, hospitality specialists, baristas, bartenders, and waiters. In fact, there are even codes of conduct and standards of behavior that those working in the hospitality industry must follow. How to greet a tourist, exchange business cards, resolve suggestions and complaints, offer help, give instructions, and explain the rules of communication are very detailed and clear. It also included rules related to a positive and correct attitude based on ethics, responsibility, and time management. For example, if a customer complains or makes a request, the employee has a rule to listen to and accept the complaint, solve it as much as possible, report back to him or her, and not be a nuisance in any way.

In addition, they should be able to fully understand the products and services they sell, the specifics of their organization’s operations, and the policies they follow, and be able to give full answers to tourists’ questions. However, the common image of employees in our hospitality organization is that they are tired of their work, have a hard time, and don’t know their work. In case of criticisms and complaints related to the service, it will be accepted in the same manner as mentioned. At best, they cheat and trick you by saying, “I will pass on your suggestions and complaints to my boss and management.” Some ignore it, saying, “I don’t know because it’s not my job.” Most people don’t give out information about their products unless they have a guarantee of service. A young man who took tourists to the hot spring, which is considered to be one of the biggest in our country, said, “There is no culture of greeting or interacting with people there. Not every description of the information. They have a bad attitude.” This is the general appearance of resorts, tourist camps, hotels, and restaurants, not to mention spas. Even in so-called international airports, there is no standard of service. The Tourist Information Center, which was closed due to the pandemic, has not yet opened its doors. The taxi service providers who are passing foreigners outside the airport often attack the tourists and almost steal their luggage. Generally, our country is known by its bad services by tourists right from the gate.

In addition to the attitude and characteristics of the staff, there are many things that surprise tourists related to hygiene, safety, and room service. To give just one example, most of our country’s resorts and tourist camps are characterized using Mongolian ger for services. That is why there is a special standard called home service. According to the standard, Mongolian homes for tourists should be as clean, comfortable, and well-furnished comparable to hotel rooms. They even have a requirement for cleaning before and after receiving the guest and how to measure the humidity and dust, how to make the bed, and how to give instructions for the fire are also included. It is even stated that “housekeepers of tourist camps have uniforms for two seasons, they will wear them fully and provide service.” Unfortunately, in reality, the homes of our tourist camps and resorts are distinguished from other services only by their filthiness with the smell of damp and mold, and by their inflated prices. It is difficult to talk about hygiene standards. Now it’s time to sort it out.

The main reason for the poor implementation of tourism service standards is due to weak supervision. Second, there are many entrepreneurs who believe that there is no need for strict standards in this industry. There are people who believe, “If we want to develop tourism, we need to improve the quality of our services. Therefore, we should raise our standards to conform to international standards”, while others say that “Corruption and bureaucracy flourish when the government becomes too involved in business activities. They will be fined, punished, and imprisoned. It should be carried out according to the principles of the market, not through strict government control,”. It is said that even at the time when the accompanying regulations and standards are being revised in connection with the new tourism law, there are conflicts arising among businessmen.

In fact, this is no different from debating whether to accept tourists from the international market. If Mongolia aims to develop tourism as a priority and compete in the international market, it has no choice but to pay attention to the pursuit of standards. The most important indicator in tourism is tourist satisfaction. But satisfaction is the result of quality service. Standards are the main driving force for providing accessible and quality services. That’s why the government’s action program for 2020 to 2024 includes “Improve tourism products, services, quality and standards, increase competitiveness, increase the number of passengers and tourists to one million” and “Renew national standards to meet international standards”. Moreover, due to the slow pace of this work and the extremely inadequate implementation of the previous standards and regulations, the tourism organizations of our country are “known” for their quality of service and are turning away tourists who came during the “Years to visit Mongolia” from the very beginning.

Amarjargal Munkhbat