Shafaq conducted the following dialogue with the tourist researcher Majid al-Azzawi about tourism affair:…
*At the beginning , could you inform us about the most important types of tourism in Iraq?
- Concerning Iraq, there are possibilities of tourism types to be established , especially religious tourism as Iraq possesses different religious sites and tombs for all religions. Religious tourism almost is the key Tourism in Iraq amounting 90% of the tourist activity in addition to cultural tourism, or archaeological tourism which some schools consider as cultural tourism because antiquities are part of the elements of culture or civilization.
Q: Is there a plan to introduce and develop new tourist sites?
- Yes Jadriyya Lake is one of the sites developed relatively and receive a lot of visitors in Baghdad, but our ambition that the reception is more within the plan of the Tourism Authority and I do not want to speak as an administrator but as a tourist technician to say that it is now offered for tourist investment in order to be developed and to raise the levels of the services provided.
Q: What is the cause of interest declining in tourism in Rasafa?
- Baghdad island is a part of Rasafa but relatively it is unaffected as a result of emergency circumstances and the issues of checkpoints, which cost visitors time and efforts. Baghdad Kirk and Rasafa need facilities and we hope the private sector gets the main role of this aspect. There are projects but they have not been implemented so far being as an ink on paper.
* Do we need a revolution in tourism?
- Surely we need a revolution in tourism, but unfortunately, oil became a negative influential factor for tourism although it is supposed to be a positive factor . Iraq is rich and it should use the oil to develop the infrastructure and services; but the country's depending on oil is affecting tourism negatively ,so tourism has become a secondary activity .
Q: What are the future plans for tourism development in Iraq?
- We tend to privatize tourist education. It is acceptable that the private sector to establish institutes of tourism in the governorates which we support technically and Tourism Authority has got now a tourism project and an ambition to open intensive courses in the governorates to prepare a service cadre to work in the hotels particularly in the religious areas .
Interviewed by Fa'iza Nasir
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