Iraq premiere at world's biggest tourism fair
Wednesday 09 March 2011
The world's biggest tourism fair, the ITB Berlin, opened Wednesday with an Iraqi stand for the first time, eight years after the toppling of Saddam Hussein and the turmoil that followed.
"This is the first participation in Iraq's history," Fadhil Al-Saaehg, chief executive of Najaf-based tourism firm Al-Rafidain, told AFP. "This is an ideal chance for Iraq to start interacting with the rest of the world."
He added: "Iraq has come out not just of one war but out of many wars and political unrest dating back 30 or 40 years. So right now is the time that everything is starting to fall into place."
The company offers a 13-day tour taking in the site of the ancient city of Babylon, parts of Kurdistan in the north, Mosul, the former Parthian stronghold and UNESCO world heritage site of Hatra, as well as Baghdad.
"Almost every city has a historical background dating back thousands of years," he said, noting: "Iraqi civilisation is over 7,000 years old. We have 18,000 archaelogical sites."
And he says that visitors do not have to worry about security or comfort. The country already boasts several five-star hotels, and more are planned.
"Right now the hotels in Baghdad are not what Western tourists might be used to, but we are working on them," Al-Saaehg said.
Already the country receives around 5,000 tourists every day, around 10 percent of whom are from Europe, North America and Australasia, he said.
His company's first participation at an international trade fair was at London's World Travel Market (WTM) in late 2010. It also plans appearances in Paris, Moscow, Italy, Spain and Dubai.
The ITB in the German capital, open to trade visitors from Wednesday and the public from Saturday, includes more than 10,000 exhibitors from 180 countries and hopes to attract 180,000 visitors by the time it closes on Sunday.
The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations
- 2 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns aged 27
- 3 Cilla Black defends Cliff Richard: 'I am positive that the allegations are without foundation'
- 4 Nicki Minaj finally releases predictable 'Anaconda' video
- 5 James Foley 'beheading': Met police warn public watching murder video could be criminal offence
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Crisis? What crisis? A visiting US doctor gives the NHS a rave review
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head
Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again. It would be immoral to bring it into the world'
Scottish Independence Referendum: Salmond described as 'arrogant, ambitious and dishonest' by Scottish women
£6000 - £50000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: Oracle 11...
£17K OTE £30K: Charter Selection: Highly successful and innovative specialist...
£45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Working with an exciting ...
£23,000: Sauce Recruitment: A global leader in sports and entertainment is now...