Tourists flock to the stability of northern Iraq
Iraqi children climb on the statue of Kurdish writer Ibn al-Mustawfi in Arbil, northern Iraq. AFP photo
More than one million people have visited the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq - a haven of relative stability - in the past nine months, a tourism official said on Saturday.
“The number of tourists who visited Kurdistan during the last nine months reached 1.15 million tourists,” Mawlawi Jabbar, the head of the General Committee for Tourism in the region’s tourism and municipalities ministry, told Agence France-Presse.
This compares to 900,000 tourists during the same period last year, he told the agency.
“These tourists are coming from other Iraqi regions, the center and the south,” he said, adding that the visitors also include “foreign tourist groups that have started to arrive in the region.”
More tourists are expected for the Eid al-Adha, or Feast of Sacrifice, which began yesterday, Jabbar said, estimating that tourism for the year will reach 1.5 million.
While the rest of Iraq remains plagued by violence, the three-province northern autonomous region is relatively stable.
However, militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), who have been staging attacks against Turkish and Iranian targets, have bases in the region. Both of those countries have carried out military campaigns against PKK members last month.