Well, it’s almost time for vacation. You may be looking at glossy travel brochures depicting places you’d like to visit this year. If so, perhaps it’s time for you to consider a visit to Iraq.
Vacation in Iraq? Are you crazy?
The fact is that large portions of Iraq, especially in the northern Kurdistan region, are already a desired destination for tourists who arrive in greater numbers each year. And, tourism is fast becoming a major contributor to the region’s economy.
There are several factors driving the development of Iraq’s tourism industry. The most powerful influence is the continuing inflow of investment money from Iraq’s regional neighbors, particularly the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which is earmarked for the development of tourism infrastructure such as hotels, resorts and spas.
Overall, the UAE is investing billions of dollars in construction, real estate, and energy projects throughout Iraq. Northern Iraq has benefited the most from tourism development, because this area leads the country in security and stability. During the past three years, UAE-based companies have invested about $8 billion in the northern region alone.
Erbil is called the “Dubai” of Iraq
Dubai in the UAE is recognized worldwide as a wealthy metropolis that attracts jet-set tourists to its luxury high-rise hotels and booming development. In comparison, Erbil, the largest city in northern Iraq, is being called the “Dubai” of Iraq because the entire city is filled with new and under-construction high-rise hotels and apartment towers, mostly due to money from UAE-based investors.
In fact, Erbil has received more than $3 billion in development money during the past five years. With the newly-built airport and its numerous flights to and from Baghdad, this city is now becoming a regional transportation hub. Last year, tourism accounted for about 22% of the area’s economy, and that percentage will soon rise even more.
Economic growth is the foundation for Iraqi tourism
The economy of Iraq is growing at a faster pace than that of almost any other country. That’s because the country’s enormous oil reserves and rapidly expanding exports are quickly making the country wealthy.
The cash being generated by the oil industry is piling up, and tourism development is receiving a fat chunk of that money. Business and government leaders have plenty to spend on new infrastructure of all kinds, including touristic attractions that are drawing crowds of tourists, mostly from Turkey, Lebanon, Iran and other nearby countries.
Although currently very few American and European tourists come to Iraq, over time it’s likely that many more will choose to visit, especially as security continues to improve. Since European and American banks and investment institutions are increasingly setting up shop in Iraq, their presence will attract even more international hospitality and tourism operators.
Hyatt, Sheraton, Hilton and other major hotel chains arrived in Iraq several years ago, and since then they’ve been steadily building more hotels. So, the availability of large numbers of reasonably-priced hotel rooms will certainly draw even more tourists in search of beautiful landscapes and relaxing vacation at budget prices.
The Iraqi Dinar immediate benefits from tourism because of foreign tourists’ need for cash to spend during their visits. By purchasing the IQD with their own national currencies, foreign tourists directly support the value of the Dinar.
Read More: Iraqi Tourism Is A Gateway To Investment