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
- 1 The truth about 'girl things': Three cheers for Heather Watson's honesty
- 2 Man who held up 'hire me' sign at Waterloo station returns a year later with 'I'm hiring' sign
- 5 Men behaving badly: Urinating while standing, 'manspreading' and the gendering of selfishness
Nigel Farage: NHS might have to be replaced by private health insurance
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
George Galloway condemns 'racist, Islamophobic, hypocritical rag' Charlie Hebdo at freedom of speech rally
Islamic history is full of free thinkers - but recent attempts to suppress critical thought are verging on the absurd
Unpaid voluntary work: Old Royal Naval College: Join our team of friendly volu...
£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This airport parking organisation are looking...
£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Do you enjoy bus driving and are looking for ...
£18000 - £20000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Support Technician - Y...