Over 700,000 tourists visited Sulaimani in past six months: official

File – Tourism visit Dukan lake in Sulaimani province

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — More than 700,000 tourists have visited areas of Sulaimani province in the past six months, according to authorities.

General Director of Tourism in Sulaimani Ali Rauf said 85 percent of the tourists were from areas in central and southern Iraq.

“The rate of tourists who entered through the checkpoints, border crossings and airports has recorded a good level in the past six months,” Rauf said in a statement on Monday.

“Incomes from the tourism sector have also kept job owners from bankruptcy and have also played a role in reviving the market in general,” he added.

Rauf predicted that the number will increase in the coming six months if the health situation remains stable in the province.

“Stability, security, beautiful nature of resorts, lower prices, and the number of malls as well as tourist places and the respect shows to the visitors are reasons for tourists to choose Sulaimani,” he stated.

The tourism industry has been hit hard by the coronavirus in the Kurdistan Region. In 2020, the Region’s revenue from tourism dropped by 75 percent due to measures taken against the virus outbreak.

Over the past two decades, the Kurdistan Region’s economy had been heavily reliant on the oil and gas sector, which has driven the Region’s development.

Kurdish authorities have been trying to diversify but the collapse of world oil prices had dealt a heavy blow.

The tourism sector formed a key part of the diversification plans, injecting about $1.5 billion into the Region’s economy in 2019, according to Nadir Rosti, spokesman of the tourism directorate.

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