Following the completion of the tourism master plans, the government has decided to build three tourist cities, one in each of its three provinces of Sulaimaniya, Erbil and Duhok.
This initiative is expected to increase the future inflow of tourists into the region.
Nadir Rosti, Spokesperson of the Kurdistan Region's General Tourism Board, stated in an interview with the Kurdish Globe, that this decision was made during the meeting of the Region's Economic Board, headed by Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani last month.
The master plan
The tourist city in Duhok will be built between the Duhok Dam and Zava Mountain, while in Erbil, the city is to be built on the Safin Mountain and the third city will be on the Dokan Dam in Sulaimaniya.
The master plan for the Dokan and Safin tourist cities are designed by the Tourism Board and they will be contracted to private investors with a tender process. However, after completion the Board will directly supervise the cities. The Duhok tourist city is designed by the Duhok Governorate, but the construction and supervision will be done in the same way as the two other cities.
Attention to tourism
Rosti also explained that his Board is preparing itself to become affiliated directly to the Council of Ministers rather than their current affiliation to the Ministry of Municipalities.
"In this case, the Board will have more power and authority and can better help develop the tourism sector," reiterated Rosti.
During the past few years, Kurdistan Region has taken some important steps with regards to tourism and has attracted increasing number of tourists year after year. This shows that the KRG authorities have realized the potential of the region to becoming a popular tourist destination.
Achieving the target
In 2011, roughly 1,702,390 tourists visited Kurdistan Region, which was 30% higher than the previous year and is 5 times more than the rate of 2007.
In the first half of this year, the number of tourists has doubled compared to the first half of 2011, and the KRG is planning to increase this number to around 2.5 million by the end of the year.
Two weeks ago, authorities and experts met in a workshop to develop a plan for the development of the medical treatment tourism, as one of the 12 types of tourism in the Region.
The construction of these three tourist cities in most attractive spots in the region is another big step towards improving the tourism sector, but also the environmental forms of tourism.
According to the KRG's tourism master plan, the number of tourists shall reach 4 million by the year 2015, with these tourist cities being a big part of the efforts towards reaching this target.