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Kurdistan Region lifts entry fee for Iraqi tourists

Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region Masrour Barzani receives Iraq's Interior Minister Yassin al-Yasiri in Erbil
Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region Masrour Barzani receives Iraq's Interior Minister Yassin al-Yasiri in Erbil, Aug. 29, 2019

The Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region Masrour Barzani on Thursday stated his government has decided to lift fees on tourists from central and southern Iraq visiting the autonomous Kurdish region.

Barzani delivered the news during a meeting with a high-ranking delegation led by Iraq’s Interior Minister, Yassin al-Yasiri, in Erbil.

The Iraqi minister welcomed the positive atmosphere Erbil and Baghdad are currently enjoying, commending the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and Iraqi federal ministries’ mutual understanding, according to the readout of the Prime Minister’s press office.

Yasiri stressed that all outstanding issues should be resolved in “accordance with the Constitution of Iraq.”

During the meeting, the two sides touched on the issue of the entry fee of 10,000 Iraqi dinars (US $8) levied from Iraqi tourists when they enter the Kurdistan Region.

The Kurdish official explained that the entry stamps required of Iraqi citizens “was to protect the security of the Kurdistan Region” and that the fees were not imposed “on the basis of nationality,” but rather “included all citizens“ living outside the Kurdish region. 

He also pointed out the mechanism for issuing an entry pass to Iraqi tourists would change to a ‘security guarantee’ card, and that the fee would be lifted, the statement added.

Annually, millions of tourists enter the autonomous Kurdish region to enjoy its many tourist destinations, historical sites, security, and its comparatively cool summer weather. Most visitors are Iraqis.

The meeting came one day after the Iraqi delegation landed in Erbil and met with Interior Minister of the KRG, Rebar Ahmed.

Yasiri on Thursday also met with Masoud Barzani in Erbil, the President of the leading Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the former President of the Kurdistan Region.

Both sides discussed the latest developments in the country and acknowledged improving relations between Erbil and Baghdad, which they believe presents “a good opportunity to resolve outstanding disputes,” according to a statement released by Barzani’s office.

They also underlined the importance of better coordination between Erbil and Baghdad in ensuring the security and stability of the country as they continue to combat persisting terrorism threats.