Lord Austin of Dudley, who joined the delegation to observe the referendum in 2017, has asked the UK’s Department of Culture, Media, and Sport what assessment they have made of whether there are new opportunities for British companies in (1) in the tourism sector, and (2) the film industry, in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.
Minister Baroness Barran replied: “Our Departmental priority for the Kurdistan region of Iraq is to support the continuing reconstruction of its infrastructure and the protection of its cultural heritage. We work closely on this issue with the British Embassy, British Council and heritage experts from the UK and Iraq. If we are successful in protecting its cultural heritage, UK and Iraqi businesses in the tourism sector will be among the beneficiaries.”
My comment. Many thanks to Ian Austin for tabling the question. It highlights an important role for UK official bodies and private companies looking for opportunities, in their own interests and for mutual benefit, to help boost the vital tourism sector. The APPG has long argued that Kurdistan is a treasure trove for western visitors due to its beauty, hospitality, and safety. Clearly, Covid obstructs it for now. The APPG has also argued that Kurdistan’s location is ideal for film-making but that this requires a home-grown film production centre, with training for budding film-makers, script-writers, and technicians. Not only could that be a major source of income, as countries such as Jordan and Tunisia have found, but can enable Kurds to tell their own stories to the world to increase understanding and solidarity. The Minister’s thoughtful answer is commendable. My hope is that British tourism and film experts and investors will see this and make a mental note to explore this, perhaps through joining the official UK Trade Mission we are also advocating.
Gary Kent, APPG Secretary.