Kurdistan waives visa requirements for some GCC nationals
Citizens of Kuwait, Qatar and the UAE will no longer require a visa to travel to Kurdistan for business or leisure
In an effort to facilitate foreign travel and business in the Region, the KRG Ministry of the Interior recently decided to waive visa requirements for nationals of the three Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states: Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
As business ties between Kurdistan and the Gulf continue to improve and increasing numbers of GCC nationals travel to Kurdistan, the safest and most developed part of Iraq, the Ministry’s decision is considered a positive step towards further improvements in Kurdistan’s tourism and trade sectors.
The decision was announced when the Kurdistan Region Tourist Board met with a delegation from the Al Noor Travel & Tourism Company, a Kuwaiti tour operator planning to arrange tours to Kurdistan for Kuwaiti nationals.
Nadir Rosti, the official spokesperson of the Kurdistan Tourist Board, stated in an interview with the Kurdish Globe that citizens of these three countries will henceforth be able to enter Kurdistan directly through its international airports without a prearranged visa.
During meetings between the Al Noor delegation and KRG Investment Board officials headed by its chairman, Mawalawi Jabar, the two parties signed an MOU concerning the staging of tours for Kuwaiti nationals in Kurdistan.
In addition, the Board’s Marketing Department signed an agreement with the Al Noor Company’s Marketing Department in relation to marketing the Region’s attractions for Kuwaiti tourists.
According to information shared by the Kuwaiti company, Kuwaiti nationals spend around US$ 5 billion on tourism every year. The delegation added that Kurdistan will soon be a travel destination for Kuwaiti tourists.
Waiving visa requirements for the citizens of these Arab countries is expected to result in an influx of tourists visiting the region in the future.
Moreover, given that Erbil will be the Arab Tourism Capital for 2014, and that the KRG is facilitating travel and tourism for Arab nationals, the Kurdistan Region can expect a sharp increase in the number of Arab tourists visiting the Region in general, and Erbil in particular, over the coming year.
The total number of tourists visiting the Kurdistan Region has risen from 377 000 in 2007 to 1.7 million in 2011 and 2.2 million in 2012—an increase of 30% in just one year!
The KRG’s strategic tourism plan aims to attract 4 million tourists to the Region in 2015.
The tourism sector is expected to form one of the most vibrant sectors in the economy of the Region, and the KRG is trying its best to make this happen.