Improving tourism sector in the Kurdistan Region

Reports‌‌ 07:26 PM - 2021-07-10


Tourism is vital for the success of many economies around the world. There are several benefits of tourism on host destinations. Tourism boosts the revenue of the economy, creates thousands of jobs, develops the infrastructures of a country, and plants a sense of cultural exchange between foreigners and citizens. 


The tourism industry has great potential to become an important contributor to the Kurdistan Region of Iraq’s (KRI) economic growth and is also important a means of diversifying the KRI’s economy away from reliance on energy exports.


The tourism sector softened slightly between 2015 and 2017, when regional problems led to an economic slowdown in the KRI, but it has rebounded well in subsequent years. According to the KRG’s Ministry of Tourism, 2019 was a record-breaking year. Visitor arrivals rose to around 3.1 million. The KRI expects to attract nearly 5 million visitors by 2025. While internal tourism remains Kurdistan’s largest market, Turkey, Iran, Lebanon, Jordan, and the European countries formed the largest foreign markets.



The number of annual visitors has grown every year over the last decade from 377,482 in 2008 to 3.1 million in 2019.


In recent years, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) launched a strategic plan to bring more tourism into the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). The KRI possesses potential to draw numerous tourists within the Middle East region due to a number of factors including its natural landscapes and archaeological and religious sites from a culture and history that traces back thousands of years. KRG indicated that it regards development of the Tourism sector as a top priority along with the Industrial and Agricultural sectors.


The plan has laid out a roadmap for the development and sustainability of the tourism industry up to 2025. The plan’s key objective is to establish a sustainable tourism industry in the KRI that contributes to the region economically, culturally and socially? To achieve the plan’s long-term goals and to oversee the development of the Tourism sector, KRG has established the General Board for Tourism. Its key tasks are to:

Strengthen the management of tourism policies, including the updating of legislation, classification, licensing, educational, tourism and statistical systems and the developing of international relations.

Prepare and develop tourism plans and strategies, improve project planning quality and prepare tourism investment in partnership with the private sector.

Develop the tourism brand and manage tourism marketing strategies and communication processes: media, advertising, and information technology.

Enable the private sector to perform its role in developing tourism efficiently.

Strengthen and enable the tourism sector to operate based on international standards.

Manage archaeological and heritage sites as critical assets to the tourism sector.

Build the institutional capacity of both the public and private sectors.

Follow up the implementation of the strategic plan initiatives, programs and projects.


Ways to further improve tourism sector in the Kurdistan Region:

1- Create traveling experiences for tourists rather than just attractions:

Traveling is an experience rather than just visiting attractions! In order to promote the tourism, Kurdistan Region needs to invest time and efforts in building traveling experiences for people brim with tour guides, activities for the children, culinary tours, interactivity for the tourist with the culture of the place, etc. Most of our attractions are left to themselves and are not built up as experiences and memories to take back home.

2- Tour Guide Application for Kurdistan Region:

The Iraqi Kurdistan Region is a popular place for my tourists in other parts of Iraq and the neighbouring countries, However, it lacks a proper tour guide application, which if it had one, it would greatly improve the tourism experience, reduce tourist travel times, help tourists with deciding whether a place is up to their likelihood. 

It will be best if the application has the following features:

Updated and accurate navigation system.

Information on the important places.

3D visualization of place.

Information of prices in the region.

Suggesting places of attraction to the tourists.


An application with the above features can greatly enhance the experience of the tourists in the region. Starting from the navigation system and GPS, the famous global map application available on both android and IOS are Google Maps and Apple Maps respectively, neither of these apps provide directions to the users in Iraq, so foreign tourists might get into trouble when they are trying to get to places throughout the region, however, having a Tour Guide Application can be a great help to them and will enhance their tourism experience. if the app is able to provide interesting information on the important places in the region such as cultural places, historical places, it will improve the tourism sector of the region and will attract more tourist to the places that the application has provided information on. On the other hand, if the application is able to visualize the place in 3D to the users it will make life easy for the tourists and help them to decide whether a place is worth travelling to or not. Money is considered one of the key things to travelers, we all think of prices in the place we are travelling to before we get there, the application will be a great help and will be appreciated much by the tourists if it provides prices accurately about things like hotel fees, restaurant meals, cafes…etc. The application can increase tourists to the places if it has the ability to suggest places to tourists along their way to their destination.





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