Over 500k tourists visited Erbil in five months, says tourism official

Erbil has over a hundred four-and-five-star hotels, the official said.
The over six millennia-old Erbil citadel is pictured in the Kurdish capital. (Photo: KRG)
The over six millennia-old Erbil citadel is pictured in the Kurdish capital. (Photo: KRG)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Kurdistan Region’s capital Erbil has hosted more than 500,000 international and domestic tourists in the last five months this year, a tourism official told Kurdistan 24 on Friday.

The tourists are from neighboring countries and Iraqi provinces that have visited the Kurdish capital since January, Dler Mohammad, the general director of Erbil’s tourism authority, said in an interview with Kurdistan 24 on Friday.

As the Region is preparing for the Islamic feast of Eid Al-Adha on June 28, which is a public holiday across the country, thousands of tourists are expected to visit the Kurdish provinces.

“We are optimistic to see a great number of tourists in the coming days in Erbil,” Mohammad said.

The Kurdistan Region has been a hotspot for domestic Iraqi tourists as well as from Iran and neighboring countries ever since 2003, when the Region emerged as a tourism  alternative  to then wartorn Baghdad.

The relative security and stability of the Region are cited as the main drivers for the success of the Kurdish tourism sector, according to tourism officials.

Erbil has over a hundred four-and-five-star hotels, according to Mohammad. 

The tourism authority recently announced that more than six million tourists in total visited the Kurdistan Region in 2022.

In addition to the holiday season, thousands of domestic tourists from across Iraq visit the northern Kurdistan Region, known for its mountain resorts and relatively cool temperatures, to escape the scorching summer heat weather in southern Iraq.  

The KRG has proposed plans to further boost the tourism sector as an alternative to diversify its reliance on hydrocarbon revenues. The plan includes an eight-year-long strategy to attract 20 million tourists annually.

The government launched an electronic visa application system early this year in a bid to facilitate investment and tourists traffic into the Kurdish region.