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Iraqi Religious Tourism Declines Because of Weak Iranian Economy

As the sanctions on Iran have reduced the number of Iranian tourists visiting Iraq, Baghdad should remedy the situation by diversifying its tourism sector.
Shi'ite Muslim pilgrims take part in a ceremony to mark the religious ritual of Arbain in Kerbala, about 80 km (50 miles) southwest of Baghdad, January 2, 2013. REUTERS/Mohammed Ameen (IRAQ - Tags: POLITICS) - RTR3C22O
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Tourism is the biggest economic resource for Iraq after oil, but the industry's focus on religion in general and on Iranian pilgrims in particular has made the Iraqi tourism sector dependent on Iran’s political will and economic situation.

Iraqi Tourism and Antiquities Minister Liwa’ Smaisim said that Iraqi religious tourism has rebounded after 2003, and that tourism has become an important source of income for the Iraqi economy, which still largely depends on oil.

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