USA Today runs a rather interesting story on the recent tourism campaign launch to get more travelers into Iraq’s Kurdistan region. A California marketing firm involved in helping the Kurdistan Development Corp., recently created a new television ad campaign for the three-province region in Northern Iraq and notes that Westerners are welcomed, walk around the area freely and that there is an active nightlife. Apparently, the three TV commercials airing nationally try to convey the message that Kurdistan isn’t the Iraq we know from CNN. It isn’t the Iraq with roadside bombing and beheadings. The lure for potential travelers is adventure, smiling-friendly Kurds, bustling businesses in addition to rock climbing, river rafting, exploring Roman ruins and the gravesites of great ancient prophets. There’s only one drawback – you have to fly through Baghdad’s sometimes dangerous airport.
Some question this new launch to help bring in tourism dollars. With one eye-brow raised and slight skepticism, some marketing experts wonder about the real intentions of the campaign. Considering the location and political history – where Kurds have sought to break away from Iraq, it comes across as if it were for the greater good of Kurdistan and the ads help create Kurdistan looking like a separate land far away from the rest of Iraq and their horrible war. Clever indeed, but one has to wonder how many people are really ready to take that leap. If the Baghdad airport stop wasn’t involved I could see more than a curious soul or two heading over, but for now I clearly can’t envision the masses river rafting in Kurdistan.