Kurdish government officials in charge of tourism have invested millions in tourism for Kuridstan.
“We have 10-year-plans for our tourism sector, including a master plan for the roads, which are hugely important for the growth of tourism in any country,” said Nawroz Mawlood, the Kurdish minister of municipalities and tourism. "Our plan is to make tourism the second source of revenue in Kurdistan after oil exports,” she told Rudaw.
Ms. Mawlood has begun to focus on Iraqi holidaymakers and other regional visitors since the geopolitical conflict has discouraged visitors due to strict immigration check points and violence.
Were it not for war that is currently going on in Iraqi Kurdistan, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) was aiming to invest $1US billion in hotels in order to add to the already 4 million visitors they were getting annually.
“The KRG has to allocate a special budget for the tourist sector, even in rough times like now,” said Dr. Azad Shokor, a tourism expert. “And then there should be continuous research about what could be further developed,” he said.
The diversification of income into tourism has come only after KRG has been forced to seek alternative forms of income as 90% of government revenue was from oil sales and the economic crisis currently happening in Kurdistan. UNESCO has recently begun working with the Kurdistan Regional Government to restore the ancient Citadel in Erbil, a major tourist attraction. The entire city was evacuated and provided with accommodations during the renovations as it is believed it is the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world.