The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Mongolian government on Friday signed a $38 million loan to develop ecotourism in Khuvsgul Lake National Park and Onon-Balj National Park to serve as models for economically inclusive development and conservation in Mongolia.
Minister of Finance Khurelbaatar Chimed and ADB Country Director for Mongolia Yolanda Fernandez Lommen signed the agreement at a ceremony in Ulaanbaatar. Members of the ADB Board of Directors, led by Executive Director Kshatrapati Shivaji, witnessed 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 Fernandez 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 will benefit around 11,000 residents as well as improve 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 Genghis Khan, a revered leader in Mongolia’s history.
In 2017, tourism comprised 11.4 per cent of Mongolia’s GDP, while generating $1.2 billion in revenue and providing 121,500 jobs. Developing tourism is a government priority to help diversify the economy. By 2028, tourism is forecast to provide 11.0 per cent of GDP, $2.1 billion in revenue, and provide 149,000 jobs. International visitors alone are expected to double to one million.
The Sustainable Tourism Development Project will improve planning for community-based tourism that will both support visitors but also create local income generation opportunities.
It will also upgrade tourism infrastructure, including tourism centres such as the Genghis Khan Tourism Complex and ticket booths, install toilets and other waste management facilities that will benefit both tourists and the host communities, and improve park management to safeguard wilderness areas. It will also pilot test Mongolia’s first tourism concession manuals and eco-certification programmes for protected areas.
ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Last year, it made commitments of new loans and grants amounting to $21.6 billion. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members – 49 from the region. GOGO MONGOLIA/ASIA NEWS NETWORK