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Reduced Iranian pilgrims crippling Iraq’s religious tourism

Baghdad, Iraqi economic activists and analysts say that thousands of hotel staffers in Karbala, Najaf and Baghdad have lost their jobs due to significant reduction of Iranian pilgrims to Iraq, which has crippled the religious tourism in the country.

Speaking to Iraqi media, the analysts warned about the economic and social consequences of this issue.

Bassim Jamil Antoine, an economic analyst, says that US sanctions against Iran have lowered the number of Iranian pilgrims, nearly closing Iraq's religious tourism.

He said that because of added costs of pilgrimage and devaluation of Iranian currency against dollar, the number of Iranian pilgrims will reduce in Arbaeen rituals this year compared to figures from previous year.

It is said that some 5,000 Iranians entered Iraq for pilgrimage every day, while the number has reduced to 400 today.

Another report suggests that thousands of workers have lost their jobs in Karbala as a result of US anti-Iran sanctions and the reduction of Iranian pilgrims.

Chairman of the Provincial Economic Commission of Karbala, Naser al-Khazali, said that Karbala province relies on religious tourism, and the imposition of sanctions has hindered access of Iranians to Karbala.

Tens of hotels in Karbala were shut down and thousands lost their jobs, al-Khazali said.

Saib Abu Ghanim, a local official in the holy city of Najaf also says that more than 35 flights used to be operating every day between Iran and Iraq which have dropped to 12 per day with most of them transferring Iraqi passengers from Iraq and back to the country.

Source: Islamic Republic News Agency - IRNA

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