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Mongolia: Looking to Market Winter

Mongolia’s sweeping steppe and nomadic heritage attract tens of thousands of tourists from around the world each summer. Come winter, though, popular tourist spots are eerily deserted; tour operators have traditionally hibernated. But some are starting to ask: ‘are we missing an opportunity?’

Tourist season in Mongolia typically lasts from mid-May to mid-September. Most operators rely on revenue generated during these months to survive for the rest of the year. “No matter how successful you are in summer, winter is a dead season,” said Gereltuv Dashdoorov, director of operations at Nomadic Expeditions, a tour agency. “That’s the same story for most companies.”

The actual drop in tourist numbers between seasons is hard to calculate as official statistics define a tourist as anyone who enters Mongolia on a tourist visa and stays for a minimum of three days. Dashdoorov says the drop in bookings for most agencies is between 85 and 90 percent. Winter visitors are mostly passengers on the Trans-Siberian Railway on a three-day layover in Ulaanbaatar – the world’s coldest capital – between trains.

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Pearly Jacob is a freelance journalist based in Ulaanbaatar.

Mongolia: Looking to Market Winter

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