Iraqi tourists enjoy the snow in Duhok. Photo: Rudaw
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Just over three million tourists from south and central Iraq and neighbouring countries visited the Kurdistan Region in 2018, according to the Ministry of Municipalities and Tourism.
“3 million and 57 tourists visited Kurdistan Region in 2018. This means that it has increased by 47 percent, compared to 2017,” Minister Nawroz Mawlood said in a press conference on Tuesday.
Over the New Year, 134,000 visitors came to the Kurdistan Region, she added, “Thanks to the touristic activities of the New Year celebrations.”
The number of people holidaying in the Kurdistan Region plummeted in 2014 because of the presence of ISIS in northern Iraq. It has slowly recovered, adding more and more visitors annually and is now back at pre-war levels.
“The most significant reason behind the increase of tourists is the presence of security and services,” explained Mawlood. “We have been able to provide necessary services to them.”
The government also boosted the sector by slashing taxes
for tourism companies and resorts.
Most of the tourists came from southern and central provinces of Iraq with a few crossing borders from regional countries.
Iranian tourists, however, were rarely seen in the Region in 2018. The minister believed there were two main reasons behind this decline: high taxes charged on the border by the Iranian government and the collapse of Iran’s rial.