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

The Kurdish Globe - - NEWS -

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.

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