Erbil’s Big Challenge: Tourists vs. Locals

This article was originally published by Niqash. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Erbil’s Big Challenge: Tourists vs. Locals in Fight for Facilities

This year the northern Iraqi Kurdish city of Erbil must live up to its hard won title, Capital of Arab Tourism 2014. But power cuts, an ailing sewage system and a lack of public restrooms has locals complaining that before authorities look after the visitors they hope to attract, they should take care of local business.

Two weeks ago, on January 1, the northern city of Erbil took up its mantle as the Capital of Arab Tourism for 2014.

The authorities in the city were already being criticised for what appeared to be an inability to capitalize on the award – and now that 2014 has started, many locals are joining in the chorus of disapproval.

In the evenings the central square and market in Erbil, the capital of the semi-autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan, are often crowded with visitors. Hirsh Hamza, 18, is one of these. He says he is proud of the fact that Erbil has won this award but he says that even he has concerns that his hometown won’t live up to the tourism title.

“Power cuts, garbage and dirt. And look,” he says gesturing at the crowded square filled with families, “there isn’t even a public bathroom here. That doesn’t seem appropriate for a city that has such a title,” he argues.

Even if there was a public restroom here, it’s possible that the city’s ailing sewage system couldn’t cope with it anyway – especially in heavy rains when the sewage system is prone to flooding. So like other locals, Hamza says that Erbil authorities should first make sure that their own people are living a good life and have their needs catered to, before paying attention to potential visitors.

3 Responses to Erbil’s Big Challenge: Tourists vs. Locals

  1. sam January 24, 2014 at 9:39 am #

    Well, we have been taken aback by the recent huge tax hikes on alcoholic beverages import. What does this tell for the tourism expectations in 2014?? By rising prices of entertainment activities in KRG, this will send the wrong signal and curb tourism inflows. At this stage with limited number of outlets, I’m not sure what people can do after spending 1-2-3 days ‘sightseeing’? Where will they spend their money and make impact on the economy? I think this a bad move at the wrong time…