We hope this website will provide necessary information for anyone interested in the tourism industry in Iraqi Kurdistan. Any feedback is highly appreciated.

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Here is the latest video news from the region. Watch the Erbil 2014 video – courtesy of the BBC.

Watch one visitor’s experience of the Kurdistan Sports Festival.

Update: Smoking In Kurdistan

Some international visitors have enquired about the smoking laws in the region, as these may be different to what you are used to at home. The law has banned smoking in government buildings and public places, similar to the situation in many European countries. However there are no recorded instances of any prosecutions under that law to date.

This law does not apply to smoking tobacco free products such as electronic cigarettes or e-cigs. However those wishing to smoke these should buy them before travelling to the region, as supplies are scare. Electronic cigarettes can be bought at your home location before you leave or you can buy them online here. You should also be sure to bring any refills you need with you as there is no guarantee of being able to buy these in Kurdistan.

Figures show that in Iraq there are over 7 million cigarette smokers and in Kurdistan the percentage is high. This is especially true among young men although it is also estimated that some 18% of women smoke (more details here).

Wednesday, May 05, 2012

A Clarification Of Kurdistan Gambling Laws

Following a recent inquiry to the website, we would like to clarify the legal position in Iraqi Kurdistan regarding gambling and the use of the internet. We recognize that many of our visitors from the UK, Europe and USA may wish to engage in recreational gambling as a part of their visit. Despite being a Muslim country, gambling in Iraq is legal. There is one casino in Iraq, which remains open today. Previously there were several casinos, however many have been forced to close as a result of the years of unrest and conflict within the country.

Although condemned by many, sports such as dog fighting still exist and these also attract a great deal of betting money from attendees. Also horse racing is a very popular sport and attracts a lot of interest each year. Betting on sports and horse racing is legal although obviously not widespread among the locals.

As gambling is legal, internet betting is also permitted for international visitors, although again this is not a common pastime with permanent residents. Therefore if you are a visitor to Kurdistan, you are free to bet online if you wish. Many online bookmakers will service transactions originating from an Iraqi IP address. You can therefore bet on sport, and sign up for bookmaker free bets and bonuses at various online betting sites, using either a traditional internet connection or a mobile device.

We trust that this statement clarifies the matter on the legality and culture of betting within Kurdistan, and that it helps encourage more visitors to our region.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Minister of tourism signs “Memorandum of Understanding” in Rome

On 7-13/07/2008 Mr. Nimrud Baito Yokhanna the Minister of Tourism along with Mrs. Gouhar Shemdin the ministry’s Heritage adviser visited Rome due to an invitation by The Instituto Italiano per l’Africa e l’Oriente (IsIAO) and signed a “Memorandum of Understanding” with the mentioned Italian organization on 11/07/2008 to arrange training courses for the ministry’s employees in the heritage sector and to help in the field of heritage conservation in Kurdistan.

Moreover, the delegation visited some archeological sites in Italy like; the old Roman marine harbor Ostia Antica which dates to the B.C era, and the villa of Emperor Adrian which dates to the 2nd century A.D.

It is worth mentioning that (IsIAO) arranged a training course for some of Slemani Heritage Directorate employees within the last few months.

KRG Ministry of Tourism

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


On 21/11/2007 H.E. the KRG minister of tourism Mr. Nimrud B.Youkhana attended an open session in Duhok Governorate to discuss the development of tourism in Kurdistan.

The session was organized under auspices of KRG Ministry of Tourism, and was attended by the General Directorate of Tourism, the Hotels and Restaurants Association, RTI organization, University of Salahaddin representative Dr. Salah Othman, and a number of Capitalists.

H.E. the minister of tourism stated that the session has been organized due to instruction of H.E. KRG Prime minister Mr. Nechirvan Barzani in order to evaluate the tourism sector in Kurdistan and eliminate the obstacles that are preventing its development and progress.

The meeting’s motto was “Kurdistan Region’s economy will develop through the development of tourism sector”. During the meeting several views were presented by the minister of Tourism and other attendants aiming at tourism development.

KRG Ministry of Tourism

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Capital Hawler celebrates World Tourism Day

On 27-Sep-2007, at the divan of the ministry of Tourism, with the attendance of both Directors of Kurdistan Hotel and Restaurants’ association, and the Travel and Tourism companies association, World Tourism Day was celebrated.

The inception was a speech by Mr. Sherwan Qadir the Director General of the ministry on behalf of Mr. Nimrud Baito the Minister of Tourism who is on a visit to Europe for signing several tourism project contracts to be implemented in Kurdistan, at the beginning of his speech Mr. Sherwan welcomed the guests and declared that the next year will be the year of great tourism projects either through private sector or by allocating the required budget for the projects.

Moreover, Mr. Sherwan asked both aforementioned associations to increase cooperation with the Ministry of Tourism by applying their ideas and plans to the Ministry. Then the representatives of both associations delivered their speech. Finally, in his speech, the director of Tourism affairs in the Ministry shed light on the history of world tourism and the tourism situation in Kurdistan region.

After the celebration, a meeting was held by the Director General, it was attended by both associations’ representatives, and directors in the Ministry of Tourism in order to exchange ideas and plans concerning tourism development.

Ministry of Tourism

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Ministry of Tourism rewards 4 journalists

Four journalists were rewarded by the Ministry of Tourism of KRG as a symbol of appreciation for their efforts as writers in the field of Tourism.

Today, Sunday, 19/8/2007, in the Divan of the Ministry of Tourism, H.E. Mr. Nimrud Baito Youkhana, Minister of Tourism rewarded the following journalists:

1- Nader Rosti
2- Salman Bradosti
3- Azad Shukur
4- Rekan Muzoori

Nominating the above mentioned names came as a result of an estimation made by a committee in the Ministry.

H.E. from his side confirmed that he will support journalists and writers, and their ideas will be considered in the future actions of the Ministry.

Monday, July 23, 2007

KRG Minister of Tourism receives Korean companies delegation

22 July, 2007.

H.E. Minister of Tourism Mr. Nimrud Baito Yokhana met a Korean delegation of the (Korean-Kurdish) company which consisted of 14 large Korean companies at his office today, the companies were specialized in investment and contracting.

H.E. welcomed the delegation and explained several subjects concerning tourism investment in Kurdistan such as the Ministry’s strategy and plan to develop tourism, and the facilities and advantages that are provided by the (Investment Law) for foreign investors, furthermore he mentioned the tourism needs of Kurdistan such as constructing 5 stars hotels, Parks, Zoos and suggested the construction of a ( Korean Village) with Korean style building, consisting of 100 houses or more including music, theater and skating halls, serving Korean cuisine and demonstrating the Korean folklore, which will be a bridge between Kurdistan and Korea and help to attract Korean tourists to Kurdistan as the minister added.

Finally H.E answered the delegation’s questions concerning related subjects and both sides agreed upon holding regular meetings and implementing coordination between them in order to create a common mechanism for the best implementation of the required projects.

Ministry of Tourism

Sunday, July 01, 2007


H.E to attend the Adventure Travel World Summit in Whistler, B.C., Canada, October 4-7, 2007

Below are the names of the Keynote speakers and H.E. Mr. Nimrud Baito is one of the Keynote speakers.

Minister for Tourism of Kurdistan and elected general secretary for the Assyrian Patriotic Party in 2006, of which he’s be associated with since its 1973 founding, Mr. Baito represents the autonomous northern Iraqi region of Kurdistan. During his early involvement in the APP, his activism on behalf of the Assyrians landed him in charge of Assyrian student’s activities and the Assyrian Culture Club in Baghdad, and saw him arrested twice by the Department of the State Security in 1978-1979. Fluent in English and trained as an electrical engineer, he spent 10 years as an IT specialist with Hewlett Packard, and now spends energy on adventure tourism development in the mountainous, lake-filled, river-flowing region outside the more visible region of Iraq.

For further details please visit http://www.adventuretravelworldsummit.com/keynotes.html#n_baito


Sunday, June 17, 2007

Delivering a lecture on “Etiquette” in the Ministry of Tourism

Today, June 17th, 2007 at 11 a.m, Mr.Majid Hamid Alazzawi delivered a lecture on “Etiquette” at “Nergiz” hall in the Ministry of Tourism Divan, the lecture was attended by the General Director of Divan and other employees and it took (3) hours.

Ministry of Tourism

Monday, May 21, 2007

KRG Ministry of Tourism organizes an extensive meeting

On 21/5/2007 at 9:30 a.m, the “KRG Ministry of Tourism” by coordination with “Kurdistan Hotels and Restaurants Association” carried out an extensive meeting attended by Hotel and Restaurant owners of Hawler Governorate at the Sheraton Hotel-Hawler.

The motto of the meeting was “How to improve and promote hotel services in tourism locations”

KRG-Ministry of Tourism

Monday, May 14, 2007

Establishing a joint committee between the Ministry of Tourism and Ministry of Municipalities to follow up tourism projects.

The KRG Minister of Tourism Mr. Namrud Baito Yokhana visited the Ministry of Municipalities and had a meeting with Ms.Nazanin Mohamad Waso the Minister of Municipalities.

In the meeting the mechanisms of improving the coordination between both sides were discussed in order to support investors and promote the implementation of projects in the main cities. A joint committee has been established for this purpose in order to implement the aforementioned mechanisms.

KRG-Ministry of Tourism

Monday, April 23, 2007

The Minister of Tourism visits The Ministry of Water Resources

On Monday 23\4\2007, the KRG’s Minister of Tourism Mr Namrud Baito Yokhana visited the Ministry of Water Resources and was welcomed warmly by the Minister of Water Resources Mr. Tahsin Qadir Ali.

In the meeting which was attended by both Ministries’ officials, the coordination between both Ministries was discussed for improving and supporting projects in areas where dams have been constructed by the Ministry of Water Resources.

Further, they shed light on the master plans which both ministries are preparing currently to avoid contradiction between both sides. Moreover they agreed upon establishing committees to organize the implementation of projects which both ministries are carrying out.

KRG-Ministry of Tourism

Sunday, April 22, 2007

KRG’s Minister of Tourism receives an Iraqi archeologist

Today 22/4/2007, the KRG’s Minister of Tourism ” Mr.Nimrud Baito Yokhana” received the Iraqi archeologist “Dr.Bahnam Abu Alsouf” at his bureau, Dr. Bahnam is visiting Kurdistan due to KRG’s invitation.

In the meeting, developing and improving archeological sites were discussed, in order to show the ancient history of the region. Furthermore Dr.Abu Alsouf showed his complete readiness to supervise any archeological excavation works in Kurdistan region.

At the end of the meeting he appreciated the invitation and wished KRG progress and prosperity. The Minister of Tourism on his side wished the honorable guest a nice stay.

KRG Ministry of Tourism

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Minister of Tourism in Kurdistan region signs a contract for implementing “Master Plan” project for the peak of Safeen Mountain.

On Monday morning 26th of February 2007, Nimrud Baito Yokhanna the minister of tourism, signed a contract with Lebanese Alkhatib and Alalamy company for implementing the “Master plan” project for the peak of Safeen mountain.

According to the contract, the company will start a comprehensive survey of Safeen Mountain as well as preparing integral ideas concerning the nature of the projects which will be most suitable to implement, through a study which will take into consideration all directions.

The period of implementation for this project is not to exceed three hundred days.

KRG-Ministry of Tourism

Friday, February 16, 2007

KRG and Lebanese tourism ministers meet in Beirut

Joe Sarkis meets with delegation from Iraqi Kurdistan

Beirut – A delegation from the government in Iraqi Kurdistan led by Tourism Minister Nimrud Baito visited a number of Lebanese political and religious figures Thursday. Following a meeting in Bkirki with Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Butros, the delegation headed to the Ministry of Tourism in Beirut to meet with Minister Joe Sarkis.

Baito said that his visit to Lebanon came after his Lebanese counterpart sent him an invitation.

“The Lebanese are known to be leaders in the field of tourism, so the main goal of our visit is to gain knowledge of the Lebanese pioneer experience and try to emulate it back in Kurdistan,” Baito explained.

Baito said that he discussed with Sarkis the possibility of sending professionals from the Lebanese tourism sector to Kurdistan to help in reviving the tourism sector there.

Kurdistan is a semi-autonomous region in located in northern Iraq. Apart from his ministerial position in the regional government Baito is also secretary general of the Assyrian Patriotic Party.

The delegation later visited the leader of the Lebanese Forces, Samir Geagea, at his home in Bzummar, where they discussed recent developments in Lebanon and Iraq.

Following the meeting Baito said that Geagea and he exchanged wishes that both Lebanon and Iraq prosper and be spared civil wars.

“We also had a discussion about means by which bilateral Iraqi-Lebanese ties could be further enhanced,” the visiting minister said.

www.krg.org (Dailystar.com.lb)

Sunday, February 11, 2007

KRG’s Ministry of Tourism delegation heads for Lebanon

On 10 Feb. 2007 KRG’s Ministry of Tourism delegation in response to a formal invitation by Lebanese Ministry of Tourism, headed for Lebanon.

The visit aims at strengthening relations between both ministries and to take advantage of the great experience of Lebanon in the Tourism and antiquities field.

The delegation is headed by Nimrud Baito Yokhana Minister of Tourism and also includes a number of consultants of the Ministry.

KRG-Ministry of Tourism-Information Department

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Japan foreign ministry changes travel advice to Kurdistan Region

Erbil, Kurdistan-Iraq (KRG.org) – The Japanese foreign ministry yesterday announced that it has lowered its travel warning for the Kurdistan Region.

The decision came after H.E. Gotaro Ogawa, ambassador in charge of reconstruction assistance to Iraq, visited the Kurdistan Region in December to review the situation on the ground. Ambassador Ogawa met Minister Falah Mustafa Bakir, Director of the KRG Office of Foreign Relations. The ambassodor and his delegation also met several other ministers, the governors of Erbil and Suleimaniah, and members of both provinces’ chambers of commerce.

Denmark’s foreign ministry also changed its travel advice for the Kurdistan Region yesterday. Over the past year the governments of Austria, the UK, Sweden and Germany have similarly changed their travel warning to reflect the Region’s higher level of security and stability.

Read “Danish foreign ministry changes Kurdistan Region travel advice”


Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Danish foreign ministry changes Kurdistan Region travel advice

Erbil, Kurdistan-Iraq (www.krg.org) – following the Danish Ambassador’s visit to the Kurdistan Region, the foreign ministry of Denmark today changed its travel advice for its citizens travelling to the Kurdistan Region to reflect the Region’s stability and strong security. It has removed its previous advice against all but essential travel.

H.E. Bo Eric Weber, Denmark’s Ambassador to Iraq, met Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani as well as several ministers. He also attended the inauguration of the Erbil Business Academy, where in his speech he said, “It is important that we the diplomats visit as many places in Iraq as possible to get a sensible view of what is going on in Iraq.”

The travel advice now distinguishes the Kurdistan Region from other parts of Iraq, reflecting its relative stability, peace and security.

Minister Falah Mustafa Bakir, Director of the KRG Office of Foreign Relations, said, “We thank Ambassador Weber and the Danish government for their visit and their recognition that the security situation here is very different from other parts of the country. This step will certainly enhance economic development and business opportunities in the Kurdistan Region as the gateway for the rest of the country. He added, “We hope the Danish foreign ministry’s decision will encourage other European governments to follow suit.”


Saturday, February 03, 2007

KRG Minister for Tourism: Kurdistan is a tourist destination in need of investment

At a joint press conference held in Erbil on Wednesday, Kurdistan’s Minister for Tourism and the board of IKB Travel and Tours travel agency gave details of the results of their meeting.

At the meeting Nimrud Baito, KRG Minister for Tourism, explained how the ministry has plans to promote the tourist sector in the Region by attracting local and foreign investors.

Kurdistan’s beautiful scenery, archeological sites and history of religious tolerance are major factors which could help make Kurdistan into a popular tourist destination.

The minister also thanked Austrian Airlines which has reopened its office in Iraq for the first time in 17 years.

Saad Khafachi, Managing Director of UK-based IKB International in Iraq, explained how he intends to promote the Region by encouraging tourists to visit Kurdistan.

He added that once the tourist industry is established in Kurdistan, the company will then be able to add to its business interests in the Region. The new Austrian Airlines office in Erbil marks an important step in encouraging other European countries to promote travel to Kurdistan.

www.krg.org – Kurdistan TV

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Conference on Investment in Iraqi Kurdistan Region to be organized

PNA – The U.S. Embassy in Iraq is to organize a special conference on investment in Iraqi Kurdistan Region.

Funded by the U.S. Embassy, the one-week-long event will take place in United Arab Emirates (UAE) and will focus on potential housing, water, and electricity projects for Iraqi Kurdistan Region.

“The conference is to be held very soon and will last for one week,” said Jamal Abdullah, press spokesman for the KRG deputy Prime Minister, to Kurdistani News last week.

“More than 300 Arab and foreign companies are to participate in the conference in addition to 150 local companies from Kurdistan Region and Iraq. Eight representatives from the KRG and the king of UAE are also to attend the conference,” added Abdullah.

The conference is expected to attract more investors to the Iraqi Kurdistan Region in the near future.


Monday, December 11, 2006

First Austrian Airlines flight lands in Erbil

Erbil, Kurdistan-Iraq (KRG.org) – The first Austrian Airlines flight number 829 landed in Erbil International Airport today at 2.45pm from Vienna. The flight marks a milestone for the Kurdistan Region as the airline became the first Western regular scheduled carrier to operate there.

The flight landing was followed by a ceremony in which Minister Falah Mustafa Bakir, the Director of the Office of Foreign Relations, thanked Austrian Airlines for its efforts. He said that the initiative will result in the Kurdistan Region becoming “next-door neighbours with Austria, and through them, with Europe and the world”.

This connection provides greater opportunities for foreign investors wanting to start businesses in the Kurdistan Region. “European businesses and political officials are now just hours away from seeing for themselves the peace, security and stability of the Kurdistan Region”, Mr Bakir said in his speech.

Later in a joint press conference, Mr. Johannes Davoras, Austrian Airlines Executive Vice-President for Corporate Communications, acknowledged the importance of bringing their flights to the Kurdistan Region and said that the Region “is a modern area, with a government doing good work for economic development”.

Such developments have been a vital part of economic progress in the Kurdistan Region, which is the Northern Gateway for the rest of Iraq.

The airline operates two scheduled flights a week between Vienna and Erbil, and tickets can be booked at any Austrian Airlines office around the world or in Erbil, or through an IATA (International Air Transport Association) member travel agent.