Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq (cabinet.gov.krd) - Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani called on the private sector, both foreign and domestic, to come to Kurdistan and take advantage of the KRG’s provisions and programs for tourism-related projects.
He stressed that the Kurdistan Region has all the attributes to become a successful destination for tourists.
Prime Minster Barzani made the statements during a speech at the opening ceremony of the Middle East Tourism Expo, METEX 2017, held in the capital Erbil.
He said, “We in Kurdistan are moving towards a new era, an era of growth and development in tourism, agriculture, and industry. This is part of our aim to diversify our economy and reduce our dependency on the oil and gas sector.”
Following is the text of Prime Minister Barzani’s speech:
Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests.
Good morning, I would like to welcome you all to the “Middle East Tourism Expo”.
I would also like to warmly welcome the distinguished ambassadors and representatives of countries to Iraq and the Kurdistan Region. I also warmly welcome all the companies, agencies, hotels, tourist organizations, and institutions from 14 countries who are attending this year’s METEX along with their counterparts from Iraq and the Kurdistan Region.
I would like also to congratulate the organizers, the managers of the Expo, and wish them all success.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Holding such an exhibition under normal circumstances would be an ordinary event. Organising this event during the current situation in the Kurdistan Region, however, is extraordinary. It will surely help to reinvigorate confidence in Kurdistan’s tourism market.
This event also demonstrates the earnest steps the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has been taking to improve the situation. We expect good results from these steps. Also, the understanding, responsibility, and the patience of our people in the current difficult situation are greatly appreciated. It is important and helpful in producing positive results.
The KRG sees tourism as a main source for generating revenue, creating jobs, developing the country, enriching the culture, and enhancing relationships. The KRG has been working on all of tourism’s positive aspects.
The KRG has comprehensive plans for tourism development. If it hadn’t been for the last difficult three years, Kurdistan tourism would have shown great improvement by now, and it would have contributed significantly to national revenue.
The Kurdistan Region has all the qualities and attributes to become a successful destination for tourists. Kurdistan’s culture of tolerance, peaceful coexistence and hospitality, go hand in hand with Kurdistan’s beautiful environment and nature. Few countries are fortunate enough to have such tourism assets.
We have good opportunity to advance tourism and to establish the Kurdistan Region as a viable and desirable destination for attracting domestic and foreign tourists.
Because of the current crisis, however, we could not take full advantage of our tourism potential. I reassure you we shall not reduce efforts to advance and expand tourism in the Kurdistan Region. We shall do whatever is within our power to advance and expand the growth of tourism. We have already taken steps in this regard.
Ladies and Gentleman,
Towards our aim, last year in March we conducted a tourism conference. That conference and exhibition helped to improve tourism in specific areas. The conference highlighted the increase of tourists from seven hundred and eighty-two thousand in 2015 to one million and six hundred thousand in 2016. We hope this year’s activities will lead to further increase.
The private sector is crucial to tourism development. It is the main channel used by countries, successful in tourism. The private sector can build and operate facilities, and create a strong foundation for tourism. The private sector can also undertake large projects and add value to Kurdistan tourism. I wish to emphasize again that the KRG supports the private sector and aims to attract and facilitate private investment in tourism.
I invite investors and the private sector, both foreign and domestic, to come to Kurdistan and take advantage of the KRG’s provisions and programs for tourism-related projects.
We in Kurdistan are moving towards a new era, an era of growth and development in tourism, agriculture, and industry. This is part of our aim to diversify our economy and reduce our dependency on the oil and gas sector.
We consider events such as this important and we support programs and plans that pave the way for improving tourism in Kurdistan. I encourage our relevant government organizations to apply themselves toward effectively implementing programs and plans, to use them as opportunities to build tourism relations with other countries to learn from their successful experiences, and to consider such experiences in planning activities for Kurdistan.
I also encourage our relevant government organizations to support participating companies and organizations in this Expo and to encourage them to open representative offices in the Kurdistan Region.
On this occasion, I kindly request all who work in tourism-related institutions and organizations at airports and checkpoints, in general, and those who work at checkpoints between Iraq and the Kurdistan Region, in particular, to act in a hospitable and professional manner when they receive and deal with Iraqi tourists and to provide every possible support and facilitation to them.
Those who choose to come to the Kurdistan Region are visiting their own country and should never feel that they are visiting another country. Their visits support our tourism market to revive and thrive, and strengthen socialization and social relationships.
The people of Kurdistan are renowned for our hospitality. Our hospitality is what the people of Kurdistan are renowned for. It resonates when visitors are welcomed and treated in the best way possible. In case of any issues, I urge and welcome Iraqi tourism companies, organizations, and agencies to inform their counterparts and partners in the Kurdistan Region.
It is true that for the past three years, the people of Kurdistan have faced a difficult time and endured a great deal of suffering. But, due to the bravery of our Peshmerga, other security forces, and volunteers, and because of their love for their country and the understanding of the people of Kurdistan, we, together, have passed through those very negative times.
Now, we look forward to a brighter future, to start another chapter of building and constructing and to further develop our country. Tourism will be one of the sectors we will strongly focus. We will do our best to allocate much effort and support to this sector.
I congratulate the organizers of this exposition, those who assisted them, the Board of Tourism, the Ministry of Municipalities & Tourism, and the companies – Dream, KTS, Fly Miran, Holidays, Bosphor Line, and Erbil’s branch of the Association of Hotels and Restaurants.
I pay tribute to the martyrs of Kurdistan. It is because of their sacrifices that Kurdistan is safe and its civilians are aiming for a brighter and better future. I salute our heroic Peshmergas, security forces, and volunteers of Kurdistan, who worked diligently day and night and put their lives on the line in order to protect Kurdistan. I send my gratitude to all our people, as they have withstood much hardship for the sake of a better Kurdistan in the future. We are certain that a better future is ahead for us all.