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Mongolians embrace 21st century tourism boom

ULAANBAATAR — It is hard to escape Genghis Khan on a visit to Mongolia. There are beers and vodkas that bear his name, and many tours paying homage to the leader who unified the warring tribes of the plains and founded the largest contiguous empire the world has seen.

Since 2005, the 800th anniversary of the founding of the Mongol Empire, Ulaanbaatar’s international airport has borne his name — but it has become too small to handle the number of tourists targeted by the government, which is seeking to diversify the economy away from reliance on mineral exports.

When the New Ulaanbaatar International Airport opens in May 2020 it will be able to handle as many as 3 million passengers a year, more than three times the capacity of the current airport, with the potential to expand to cope with 12 million.

International tourism is growing fast here — from 529,000 visitor arrivals in 2018 to 549,756 in the first 11 months of 2019. The government…

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