July 30, 2020 | tourism

Tourist attractions to stay open in Erbil, Sulaimani during Eid al-Adha holiday

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Tourist attractions in Erbil and Sulaimani will stay open over the Eid al-Adha holiday that begins this Friday, provincial tourism officials have said, but with crowd restrictions in place to prevent spread of the coronavirus.

'Under strict coronavirus measures, all tourist sites in Sulaimani will be allowed to be open, except party halls and other places where there are massive crowds,' Ali Rauf, in charge of Sulaimani's tourism department told Rudaw.

However, tourism attractions are to remain closed in Duhok, the province's head of tourism told Rudaw – despite it seeing less COVID-19 cases that the rest of the Kurdistan Region.

'We have requested that tourist spots be open in Duhok, but we have not yet received a response from the Duhok Governorate's Operations Room,' tourism department chief Obaydulla Dawood told Rudaw. 'Therefore, they will not be opened during the Eid holiday.'

Eid celebrations are usually a time of congregation, including travel across the Region to see family and friends. But to combat spread of the highly contagious virus, Eid al-Fitr in late May saw a total lockdown put in place for 72 hours.

The decision to allow tourist resorts stay open in Erbil and Sulaimani comes a week after the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) interior ministry announced that the Ibrahim Khalil border crossing with Turkey and the Haji Omaran and Bashmakh border crossings with Iran were to reopen to non-commercial traffic – allowing Kurdistan Region residents stranded in Iran to return home, and for holidaymakers to enter the Region.

Open border crossings and tourism sites will likely have people working in the tourism sector breathing a sigh of relief, as the coronavirus pandemic and its associated lockdowns have left attractions empty, dealing a huge blow to revenue.

Erbil's Soran district is home to 80 percent of the province's tourist attractions.

'All of our tourist resorts will be open,' Barzan Mohammed, head of Soran's tourism office told Rudaw.

However, Mohammed warned that failure to adhere to the coronavirus health guidelines including crowd size would result in the shut down of resorts.

The Kurdistan Region has so far recorded 12,937 coronavirus cases and 504 deaths. Sulaimani remains the worst-hit province, having recorded 8,319 cases and 389 deaths.

The Kurdistan Region was placed under total lockdown in early March, with schools, businesses, and public life closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Kurdistan Region tourist attractions were allowed to reopen to receive holidaymakers on May 10.


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