Kurdistan Regional Government
WED, 18 OCT 2017 17:41 Erbil, GMT +3

Nechirvan Barzani : Kurdistan Region has a strong potential for tourism development

SAT, 19 MAR 2016 14:47 | KRG Cabinet

 

The  text of the  speech of Nechirvan Barzani, the  Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region in the opening ceremony of the International Tourism Conference in Erbil:


Ladies and gentlemen,
Dears Minister of Tourism of the Lebanese Republic and Minister of Culture of the Republic of Iraq,
Representatives of International, regional, and Iraqi tourism agencies and companies,

I welcome you all to this event; it’s our pleasure to host you today in the capital of the Kurdistan Region in an international conference of tourism. Participation of officials and representatives of 27 tourism companies across the world, especially at this particular time of The war against terrorism, and financial challenges, is not only a prestigious event for our tourism sector but also a show of solidarity and support and a repose for the Kurdistan Region.

I hope the presence of such a large number of international tourism companies in this conference will help us to revive tourism sector in Kurdistan Region in a way that it becomes another source of revenue for the region, a bridge with the world to open other doors, a tourist destination for international tourists visiting the Middle East.

With its natural beauty, breathtaking scenery, undiscovered mountains, ancient and historical sites, the Kurdistan Region has a great potential to become a major tourism destination in the wider region.

The welcoming attitude and warm hospitality of the people of Kurdistan Region is another important factor that could help develop tourism sector in our region. This welcoming attitude, which is one of the characteristics of the people of Kurdistan, gives a positive first impression to all foreign tourists at airports or border points upon their entry to our region. Hope to stay like that steadily.   

Dear guests,
The Kurdistan Regional Government has done its best to build tourism infrastructure, to secure the safety of tourists, and to attract international tourists to the Kurdistan Region. In order to further develop our tourism sector, the KRG has encouraged the private sector to invest in tourism projects and we will continue to do so. Since the establishment of the KRG Board of Investment in 2007, more than 6 billion USD have been invested in the tourism sector.

Despite of having the basic elements of a  tourism, it is unfortunate that due to our limited resources we have to give priority to the sectors that have direct impacts on the lives of our citizens. As a result, we have not been able to support tourism sector to the extent that we had planned. On the other hand, freezing of the KRG’s share of the federal budget ,the financial crises and war against terror challenges facing our region have had an adverse impact on all sectors including the tourism sector during the last two years. We are confident that once we overcome the current challenges, tourism sector will revive again and we will be able to further promote tourism in the Kurdistan Region.

When we look at the statistics between   2007 to 2016, we see great progress in our tourism sector. For instance, in 2007 we only had 105 hotels, while the number in 2016 has risen to 620 hotels. The number of restaurants for the same given years has increased from 129 to 764. Also during those years the number of tourists entering the Kurdistan Region increased from 377,000 to nearly three million. Most of the tourists come from the middle and south of Iraq, Iran and to a lesser extent from the regional and international countries.

The KRG has a comprehensive plan for the development of tourism sector. Our strategy is to focus on developing the sectors of agriculture, industry, and tourism to become the main source of our economy instead of oil and natural gas, with  the establishment of a solid infrastructure for those sectors , we would be able to reduce our dependency on the oil and gas sector.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Achieving a world-class tourism sector does not only require building five star hotels, restaurants and tourism projects but also a culture of tourism and exceptional services. In that regard, Kurdistan Region has a great potential as the people of the region enjoy tourism, which will make our job of promoting culture of tourism and attracting international tourists much easier, the social environment of Kurdistan Region for tourism and hosting foreign tourists is helpful and promising .

Even though, a much mature tourism culture is required ,the KRG and its relevant institutions should work seriously, in a scientific way, to further promote and consolidate culture of tourism in the Kurdistan Region. The local media can also play an active role in that regard. I hope that this subject will be discussed during the discussion of this conference to explore ways and means of advancing culture of tourism in our region.

I would like to seize this opportunity to encourage local and foreign investors to play an active role in reviving our tourism sector through investing in tourism projects. I urge them to take advantage of Kurdistan’s undiscovered mountains, plains, and rivers to build appropriate tourism project on this four season suitable land for tourism. The KRG is ready to fully support and facilitate the implementation of such kind of projects.

Tourism is an important sector for Kurdistan Region. I have instructed the KRG Ministry of Municipality, Board of Tourism and other relevant authorities to undertake necessary measures to further promote tourism so that it becomes a source of revenue for our region.

Dear guests,

Please allow me to salute the martyrs of Kurdistan who sacrificed their lives defending our land and freedom. I commend our brave peshmerga forces who are in the frontlines fighting the most brutal terrorist organization so that we can live in peace and continue building our nation. The resilience of our Peshmerga forces makes it possible for the people of Kurdistan Region to celebrate Newruz like every other year.

Once again I would like to welcome you all. I wish the conference success. I thank the Ministry of Municipality and Board of Tourism for organizing this important gathering. I wish the participants a productive conference and I hope their presence here today will pave the way for further collaboration in the future so that we will continue to work together to turn Kurdistan into a major tourist destination.

Thank you all



See also