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The director of the Iraqi Political Economic Center, Wissam Hammal Al-Helou, revealed, on Wednesday, the number of travel and tourism companies operating in Iraq and the number of those that had to stop their work due to financial difficulties and huge financial burdens threatening the Iraqi travel and tourism companies sector, calling on the concerned authorities to take action to remedy the situation before the collapse of this sector.
Al-Hilu said in a statement, "The number of travel and tourism companies licensed and operating in Iraq has reached 978, according to the latest official statistics, of which 517 are in Baghdad (275 in Rusafa) and (242 in Karkh), while the remaining 461 are distributed among the rest of the provinces except for the Kurdistan region." .
He added, "As for the total number of closed companies in the last ten years due to bankruptcy or declining profits as a result of the country's circumstances, it has reached approximately 453 in Baghdad and the provinces, while the remaining 525 are operating until the beginning of 2023."
He continued, "The tourism sector in Iraq suffers from a lack of government support and the continuous neglect of all successive governments in managing the country with the absence of actual plans and the absence of tourism strategies aimed at advancing the reality of tourism in Iraq and the travel companies sector in particular."
Al-Helou pointed out that "the work of travel and tourism companies in Iraq has declined and incurred huge and huge losses since 2014, starting with the emergence of the terrorist organization ISIS and its subsequent repercussions in several Iraqi cities, then it exacerbated further in 2019 due to the demonstrations, and then the Corona pandemic in 2020 and 2021, which Travel around the world was paralyzed, as were the political and security events that affected the country in 2022.
He stressed that "these repercussions made the companies' revenues not commensurate with the operational costs of the salaries of their employees, fees and taxes paid to the state, which forced 453 of them to close and threatens the rest with the same fate, which could pave the way for the collapse of the travel and tourism companies sector in Iraq."
He pointed out that "the center's management conducted a questionnaire through a number of interviews with managers of travel and tourism companies in the capital, Baghdad, and a number of Iraqi governorates, whose departments complained about immediate and unilateral decisions that are unfairly issued by the Tourism Authority and a number of other competent departments and ministries."
The most recent of which was the imposition of a letter of guarantee from the Industrial Bank in the amount of 25 million Iraqi dinars on each travel and tourism company in favor of the Tourism Authority, in addition to fees for renewing the license, fines and taxes imposed on advertisements for tourism programs on social networking sites.
He continued, "In addition to that, fees imposed by the Ministry of Labor related to employee guarantee, company registration department fees, corporate tax, direct deduction, income tax, profession tax, advertising and waste removal for the Municipality of Baghdad and municipal departments in the governorates, fines and fees for the Bar Association, fees for the Baghdad Chamber of Commerce and chambers of commerce in the governorates, and forcing companies to belong rooms and fining them in violation of the law, not to mention the water and electricity fees, and these exaggerated burdens constituted a major obstacle to the work of licensed tourism companies.
And among the directors of the companies, according to the statement, that "there are large numbers estimated at hundreds of (fake) travel and tourism companies that are not officially licensed and spread in the capital, Baghdad, and all governorates, and they carry out their work freely without paying fees or taxes and without supervision," pointing out that "the inspection tours to monitor and punish those The procedures are few and the penalties are timid and do not deter the violators, as these companies reopen their doors hours after closing and without paying fines.
Al-Helou called on all concerned parties from the state, the government, the Committee on Tourism and Antiquities in the Iraqi Parliament, the Ministry of Culture and the Tourism Authority in particular, and all institutions working in the field of tourism to protect companies, issue instructions and legislate some paragraphs of laws that contribute to facilitating the work of licensed private companies belonging to the (Association of Companies). Travel and Tourism in Iraq), which was established under Law No. 47 of 1967, and then its status was adapted according to the provisions of Law No. 49 of 1983. It is the legal and official representative of travel and tourism companies and the union body that defends its rights, takes care of its interests, and communicates its voice to the relevant authorities in the country Under the supervision of the Tourism Authority, suggesting thatThe concerned authorities in the tourism business establish real communication links with the Association of Travel Companies in order to come up with effective solutions and find possible facilities that restore life to the tourism activity and enhance the work of travel and tourism companies, which contributes to supporting the national economy in hard currency and providing many job opportunities for the unemployed youth and reducing pressure on The state is responsible for finding places and opportunities to appoint them.
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