Travel experts and companies from around the world attended the Kurdistan International Tourism Conference in Erbil last week, paving the way for Erbil's position as Middle East Tourism Capital of 2014.
The Head of the General Board of Tourism, Mawlawi Wahab made the opening remarks and welcomed the delegates who included officials from the federal Iraqi government as well as members of the international community.
Speaking on behalf of the Iraqi government, the federal Minister for Tourism and Archaeology, Liwaa Smaisim, said, "I would like to convey the wishes of the Iraqi government to the region on your success in getting Erbil selected as the 2014 Capital of Arab Tourism." He went on to praise the rapid progress Erbil is undergoing particularly in the tourism sector with the number of visitors steadily increasing year after year.
The Governor of Erbil, Nawzad Hadi, thanked Minister Smaisim and his ministry for their assistance in securing the award. He said:
"The Kurdistan Regional Government has allocated $20 million for this project and the people of Erbil are very proud to have their city selected as the capital of tourism. We are sure that this will provide an opportunity for Kurdistan as well as a Iraq as a whole to be looked at a in a more positive light by the international community."
The Minister of Municipalities and Tourism Dilshad Shahab, who spoke on behalf of Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani, conveyed the Prime Minister’s gratitude to the ministries, institutions and departments that played a role in Erbil securing the award. He briefed the guests about the importance that the KRG places on the tourism sector mentioning that it has been earmarked as a priority sector in the development of the economy.