Oct 21 2013
By Fareed Hassan
Azzaman, October 21, 2013
There has been a drop in the number of tourists to the Kurdish north, particularly during Eid al-Adha, the second most important Muslim festival.
The Eid took place last week and it used to draw tens of thousands of tourists each year, most of them from the central and southern parts of Iraq.
During last week’s Eid – a four-day festival – only 112,000 tourists were reported to have entered the region, comprising the three Kurdish provinces of Arbil, Dahouk and Sulaimaniya.
“This year there has been at least a 10% drop in the number of tourists heading to the region during the Eid,” said Nadir Rousti, who heads the Kurdish region’s Tourist Commission.
Rousti said the expectations were that the region would receive more tourists than in the past year when 123,000 people spent the holiday in Iraqi Kurdistan.
The drop in tourists comes following two suicide bombings in Arbil, the region’s capital that targeted Kurdish security headquarters and killed and injured many people.
The bombings prompted the Kurdish authorities to tighten security measures and impose restrictions on those entering the region, particularly in Arbil.
Rousti’s estimates were based mainly on Arbil as he reported higher figures for tourists landing in Sulaimaniya, the province that has been relatively the quietest among Iraq’s 18 provinces.
One town that has seen a surge in number of tourists is Qhaniqeen in which more than 25,000 Iraqi families mainly from central Iraq had spent the Eid holiday.
Qhaniqeen is part of the restive Province of Diyala of which Baaquba is the capital.
But Qhaniqeen, known for its picturesque scenes, beautiful weather and splendid tourist attractions, has been relatively calmer than other areas.
This post has already been read 379 times!