MARKET RESEARCH Tourism

Kurdistan, with its breathtaking sceneries and historical sites, presents itself as a regional touristic destination, both for Iraqis looking for a safe haven and foreign tourists looking for an unusual and exciting destination. Erbil is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world and numerous civilizations have inhabited the city throughout history, giving it a rich history and culture. As a result, numerous hotel and resort projects are currently being undertaken in the Region in order to accommodate tourists and entrepreneurs alike. The World Trade Organization estimates annual air passenger growth in 2010 at 28%, the second largest increase in the region after Sanaa. The graph below illustrates the rapid growth in air passengers to Erbil.
As much as 40 tourism-related project licenses have been awarded so far. However, according to an HVS Hospitality Management Services 2011 report, there is a clear undersupply of quality accommodation in Erbil for the moment. As a result, average hotel accommodation rates have increased by 10% in 2010 and are continually inflating. Occupancy rates since 2008 have averaged 78% according to HVS. Moreover, there are currently no casinos in the Region although the Kurdistan General Establishment of Tourism assures investors that gambling is permitted.

The two main hotels in Erbil are the Erbil Rotana Hotel and the Divan Hotel, offering luxurious rooms and international cuisine. Tourism-related projects are also being undertaken in many different parts of Kurdistan, specifically in the outskirts of Erbil, such as the town of Shaklawa where an immense complex called Safeen Master Plan is under construction, boasting several hotels and chalets. Another touristic complex coupled with an amusement park has sprung up in the mountains near the town of Rawanduz. Other proposed investment opportunities are Dukan city master plan and Erbil Green Belt master plan.