Iraqi tourism gets a boost

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The Independent Travel

Lufthansa announced on Junuary 12 that it plans to begin direct flights to Baghdad from Frankfurt and Munich for the first time in 20 years.

The German carrier is currently examining the possibility of serving the Iraqi capital and the city of Erbil in the north from summer 2010. If plans are approved, it will be the first European carrier to offer regularly scheduled flights in and out of Baghdad International Airport, formerly Suddam International Airport. Lufthansa operated flights to Baghdad from 1956 until the start of the Gulf War in 1990.

Several carriers already operate flights to Middle Eastern destinations from Baghdad, and Iraqi Air has regular scheduled flights to Sweden and Germany. Scheduled flights to the city of Erbil, in the calmer northern region of Iraq, are already operated by Austrian Airlines, with more airlines planning to open up the route.

In November 2009, a group of officials from the Tourist Board of Iraq attended the World Travel Market Tourism show in London, aiming to persuade potential investors to help it create a tourism infrastructure and renovate the country's 784 hotels. The war-ravaged country was for centuries the intellectual capital of the Islamic world, leading in astronomy, literature, mathematics and music. Today, Iraq is home to three UNESCO world heritage sites.