Mongolia’s participation in the ITB and Malaysia’s misfortune

When asked about how welcoming the country is to gay people and jews, “We have no such thing,” said the Minister of Arts, Culture and Tourism of Malaysia Mohammaddin Ketapi at the ITB 2019 exhibition which kicked off with much controversy.

The official partner of ITB this year was Malaysia with its jungles, sandy beaches and a myriad of cities that contained the colors of its colonization. However, by stumbling at the journalist’s question, the minister of the sector caused public outrage. Experts and media publications alike discussed that in doing so, he has blown away the high amounts of money the country spent on advertising tourism. Therefore, the country’s ambition to increase the number of tourists from 25 to 30 million has become questionable.

The annual gathering commenced at Berlin, Germany starting March 6 and there were over 10 thousand sector participants and company representatives and exhibitors from 181 different countries. Likewise, there was a total 160,000 visitors at the ITB. Representing Mongolia was the Deputy-Minister of Environment and Tourism N.Tserenbat alongside 50 other people from the public and private sectors. The top ten famed companies of Mongolian tourism presented at the exhibition.

Participating for the first time, the Director of the Mongolian Secret History LLC B.Oyun-Erdene said “In comparison to other exhibitions, Mongolia has familiarized itself fairly well at the ITB where tour operators approach us wanting to work in partnership” While the Director of Tsolmon Travel M.Navchaa taking part for the 26th year said “For the first few years of our participation, everyone used to ask what kind of a country Mongolia is and where it is located. Now, nobody asks this question anymore and is aware to a certain extent.”

It is a misconception to think that you can participate in the exhibition for the first time and immediately start signing contracts and bringing tourists. “After years of sustainable participation and contact established with the tour operators, they begin to trust you,” highlighted Ms.Navchaa and advised this to younger operators. As for the major companies of the sector, they need to meet organizations that run similar operations in other countries, establish new partnerships, update the contracts, and present their new products to each other. This is the main speciality of the exhibition. Mayor of Berlin Michael Muller gave special attention to the opening of Mongolia’s exhibition.

Mongolia has been participating in the exhibition since 1999 and was a feature country in 2015. Though Mongolia has spent 5.4 billion MNT from the government and 2.5 billion MNT from the private sector since then, the aimed 30 percent increase in tourism has not happened. The main reason for this relates to the deficit of available flights. Last year, Mongolia received 529,000 tourists which is an 11 percent increase compared to 2017 in accordance to the General Authority for Border Protection. To maintain this growth, there is a need to increase flight frequencies and routes to improve service quality.

This year, a hefty investment amount of seven billion MNT from the state budget has been allocated to the tourism sector. According to the Minister of Nature, Environment and Tourism N.Tserenbat, the ministry is working to provide various human resources training to improve the quality of service in the country. The WTO has noted that the sector will focus on education in order to maintain the sector’s employment and improve the quality of services believes Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary General of the organization.

Additionally, the minister of the sector highlighted how they will go headstrong into marketing. In particular, they are to work on advertisements that are targeted to those who are interested in Mongolia. When people search up Mongolia on social media or the World Wide Web, further information and contacts are to be offered to them. The sectoral policy is also to focus on having tourists from particular countries get their visa from the border or even get them online.

On the first day of the exhibition, the presented an interactive website which introduces Mongolia as a whole. The online site was made by Chameleon Strategies Company. Furthermore, the ministry is to cooperate with Amadeus Company, an expert organization in tourism technology. Out of many discussions taking place with different topics, the minister of the sector participated actively in the policymakers of the Silk Road countries.

During March 7, the second day, a sub-event of the ITB “The Golden Gate” international tourism multimedia competition awarding ceremony took place. In the best video category of tourism, “Welcome to Mongolia” by Tsolmon Travel LLC and artist M.Myagmar snatched top place.

Watch the clip through here;

Trends and the future

Tourism alone grew by six percent in the world, far exceeding even the world economic growth which was at 3-4 percent. Due to the increase in consumption of new technology, the number of women in tourism entrepreneurship is according to the WTO Secretary General.

Malaysia said that they will continue to be more sustainable in tourism and implement projects that help balance the ecology and nature said the Minister of Arts Culture and Tourism. Last year, the country received 25 million tourists and this year, they are aiming for 30 million.

The issue of climate change and over-crowded tourists were a hot topic this year for ITB Berlin. Participants of the physical gathering increase even more so each year though it is the digital age. This perhaps shows that not all relations are becoming digitalized. Also, the issue of the transportation sector was not left behind because of the recent large changes in the sector including self-driving cars, electric cars and trains. This year, the amount of health tourism companies and the booths that they get increased proving that the particular type of tourism is very popular right now. You can say that the next market that is high on demand is business tourism. Technology related tourism has risen by 20 percent and this has led to ITB Berlin even allocating a special place for the relevant technology of this year. In relevance to how much the Indian economy is expanding, India is organizing their own ITB starting next year at Mumbai.

Turkey has been losing tourists in the last four years to Spain as a result of series of political repression and terrorist attacks, but starting this year, their tourism is picking up again highlighted Norbert Fibbik, President of the Tourism Federation of the country. Turkey has planned to receive 50 million tourists this year. Moreover, tourism in politically stable countries such as Tunisia and Bulgaria is to grow strongly. The number of European tourists is likely to decline, but the growth of US and Russian tourists is to increase.

Tourism magnet Spain begun with a jump start this year, but is overshadowed by the renaissance of its mediterranean neighbors and is potentially no longer able to keep their inflow at a steady increase. The expenditures Germans will spend on tourism is to increase while Britain’s tendency will decrease due to Brexit related issues. Furthermore, as the livelihood of Chinese people increase, they are to invest more into travelling and by 2023, approximately 115 million citizens are expected to do so. In expenditure form, this would mean that they will travel at the accumulated cost of 250 million USD. From Chinese tourists, the European countries are to profit the most according to the Chinese Foreign Market Research Institute.

The ITB Berlin exhibition is held March 6-10 every year. In the first two days the sectoral participants commence together and conduct to business meetings and the last two days are for the general exhibition that is open to the public.

Participants from Mongolia consisted of the Ministry of Nature, Environment and Tourism, the Mongolian Embassy to Germany, The Ulaanbaatar Mayor’s Office, Ulaanbaatar City Tourism Department, MIAT LC, A Star Mongol LLC, AB Travel LLC, Ar Mongol LLC, Great Genghis Tours&Expeditions LLC, Juulchin LLC, Juulchin World Tours LLC, Mongolian Secret History LLC, Nature Tour LLC, Red Rock Resort, Tsolmon Travel, and the Gerege Digital Technology LLC.