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Published: 03 December 2013

Sharing expertise to help shape the future of tourism in Iraq

Surrey academics assist local government as Iraqi city of Erbil prepares to become Arab Capital of Tourism in 2014.

Tourism experts from the University of Surrey have travelled to Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, to deliver a workshop for the Erbil Governorate and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) as the city steps up its preparations for becoming the Arab Capital of Tourism next year.

Working in conjunction with the University of Kurdistan Hewler and leadership development organisation Decisive Operations, the Surrey team were the first international experts to be consulted as part of the project. The University was represented by Professor Graham Miller, Head of the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management and Professor Nigel Morgan, Professor of Tourism and Events Marketing at the School. Roger Pride, Managing Partner for Heavenly, a place branding company, also accompanied the Surrey academics on the trip.

The workshop – which was delivered on 26 November to the Board of Tourism for Kurdistan, the governorate and key private sector companies – focused on identifying a vision for Erbil and creating a destination brand.

Erbil will welcome an anticipated three million visitors in 2014 after winning the honour from the Arab Council of Tourism, beating competition from the likes of Beirut and Sharjah. Despite the lack of an established tourist economy, the city has recently become something of a ‘tourism boom town’, playing host to visitors from across the Arab world.

The KRG has promised a range of events and activities in the city throughout 2014 – including an international film festival – along with massive private sector investment. Authorities are also in the process of restoring Erbil’s ancient citadel, which dominates the heart of the city.

For more information, visit the KRG website or explore the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management pages.