A stretch of the Mosul-Duhok road. File photo: Rudaw
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Tourism in the Duhok province has doubled compared to last Newroz in part thanks to the re-opening of the Mosul-Duhok road and the gradually improving security situation across Iraq.
“The road was closed for four years. We were deprived of coming to Kurdistan. Thanks be to God, the re-opening of the road was very good,” Samar Mohammed, who was enjoying the Newroz festivities, told Rudaw.
The 100 percent spike in tourist traffic compared to last year will come as a welcome boost to the region as it recovers from recent conflicts and financial woe.
“The entrance of ISIS and the following events caused the closure of the road. This is my first journey to Kurdistan Region and Duhok since then,” Nasir Yasir, another tourist, told Rudaw.
According to figures compiled by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG)’s tourism department, 76,000 tourists had come to Kurdistan as of March 20. The figure is estimated to have doubled in the days that followed.
Last Nawroz, nearly 30,000 tourists visited Duhok to join in the traditional new year celebrations. This year nearly 60,000 made the trip.
“The number of tourists is increasing, especially this year – after this road was re-opened for us. Our teams have been distributed all over the place to welcome and serve these tourists,” Hamid Amedi, a spokesperson for Amedi’s tourism department, told Rudaw.
Each tourist spends an estimated $300 while visiting.
This is the first time tourists from central and southern Iraq have been able to visit Duhok via this road since 2014. For them it was a great moment to break down the barriers imposed by the war and to explore Kurdistan once again. For businesses supporting the tourism industry, it has been a bumper year.