Click to join an upcoming live event

Turn off Ads (click)

Click on your language to translate this article:

Afrikaans Afrikaans Albanian Albanian Amharic Amharic Arabic Arabic Armenian Armenian Azerbaijani Azerbaijani Basque Basque Belarusian Belarusian Bengali Bengali Bosnian Bosnian Bulgarian Bulgarian Catalan Catalan Cebuano Cebuano Chichewa Chichewa Chinese (Simplified) Chinese (Simplified) Chinese (Traditional) Chinese (Traditional) Corsican Corsican Croatian Croatian Czech Czech Danish Danish Dutch Dutch English English Esperanto Esperanto Estonian Estonian Filipino Filipino Finnish Finnish French French Frisian Frisian Galician Galician Georgian Georgian German German Greek Greek Gujarati Gujarati Haitian Creole Haitian Creole Hausa Hausa Hawaiian Hawaiian Hebrew Hebrew Hindi Hindi Hmong Hmong Hungarian Hungarian Icelandic Icelandic Igbo Igbo Indonesian Indonesian Irish Irish Italian Italian Japanese Japanese Javanese Javanese Kannada Kannada Kazakh Kazakh Khmer Khmer Korean Korean Kurdish (Kurmanji) Kurdish (Kurmanji) Kyrgyz Kyrgyz Lao Lao Latin Latin Latvian Latvian Lithuanian Lithuanian Luxembourgish Luxembourgish Macedonian Macedonian Malagasy Malagasy Malay Malay Malayalam Malayalam Maltese Maltese Maori Maori Marathi Marathi Mongolian Mongolian Myanmar (Burmese) Myanmar (Burmese) Nepali Nepali Norwegian Norwegian Pashto Pashto Persian Persian Polish Polish Portuguese Portuguese Punjabi Punjabi Romanian Romanian Russian Russian Samoan Samoan Scottish Gaelic Scottish Gaelic Serbian Serbian Sesotho Sesotho Shona Shona Sindhi Sindhi Sinhala Sinhala Slovak Slovak Slovenian Slovenian Somali Somali Spanish Spanish Sudanese Sudanese Swahili Swahili Swedish Swedish Tajik Tajik Tamil Tamil Telugu Telugu Thai Thai Turkish Turkish Ukrainian Ukrainian Urdu Urdu Uzbek Uzbek Vietnamese Vietnamese Welsh Welsh Xhosa Xhosa Yiddish Yiddish Yoruba Yoruba Zulu Zulu
Travel News

Iraqi Kurdistan hopes for 5 million visitors by 2015

ARBIL, Iraq – Kurdistan, the semi-autonomous region in northern Iraq, expects to attract more than five million tourists by 2015, according to government sources.

ARBIL, Iraq – Kurdistan, the semi-autonomous region in northern Iraq, expects to attract more than five million tourists by 2015, according to government sources. New data reveal that 800,000 tourists made a visit in 2009, while last year they totalled more than 1.3 million.

By the end of this year, the Ministry of Tourism and Municipalities expects to welcome more than two million tourists to Iraqi Kurdistan.

“While the number of tourists to most Middle Eastern countries is dropping because of the security and political situations, in the Kurdistan Region they have been increasing beyond imagination,” said Sirwan Shafiq, media director of the Arbil-based General Directorate of Tourism, the entity associated with the Ministry of Tourism and Municipalities.

“If these numbers continue to rise, we expect to receive at least five million by 2015.”

The federal entity in northern Iraq is administered by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

The KRG rules the three provinces of Arbil (the capital), Duhok and Sulaimaniyah. Both Arbil and Sulaimaniyah have international airports, while another one is under construction in Duhok. Several international border crossings exist with neighbouring Turkey and Iran.

The official added that the recent surge in arrivals is a direct result of the international media promoting the area’s tourism potential. The National Geographic and The New York Times recommended the area as a prime travel destination for 2011. Most importantly for travellers to the region, the media also highlighted the security and stability of Kurdistan, a region untouched by the violence elsewhere in Iraq.

“Security, history and a warm welcome in a stable corner of Iraq” were the words used by The New York Times, which placed the region in the No 34 spot โ€” even edging out well-established Miami โ€” in the โ€˜41 Places to Go in 2011′.

Visa extension

Any foreigner who enters the Kurdistan Region will get a 10-day entry visa on arrival, beyond which one has to visit the immigration office to extend the stay, which takes hours and sometimes days to acquire.