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Iraq as a holiday destination?

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Iraq as a holiday destination?

Fancy a holiday in Iraq? to be honest I'd love top visit the country. I'd also love to visit Afghanistan which has some beautiful areas like the Wakhan penninsula.

Welcome to Iraq, the hot new holiday destination

It has some of the finest archaeological sites in the world and some of the holiest places in Islam - but persuading tourists to visit Iraq has to be one of the toughest jobs around.
Hamood Massam al-Yakoubi, the head of the Iraqi Tourism Board, is confident that as the violence begins to recede, the brave and curious may be enticed to the country. “I would like tourists from around the world to visit because there is a lot to see,” he says.

On that score, he is certainly right. Gathering dust in the entrance hall of a Baghdad hotel a guidebook from the 1980s displays pictures of Iraq's attractions, among them the golden dome of the al-Askari shrine, one of the holiest buildings of Shia Islam.
Of Samarra, where the shrine is, the book says: “The artistic, literary, and scientific splendours of the city have remained a legend in Arab history.”

As about 200 tourism operators, hoteliers and officials convened this week to discuss the once-booming industry, the recent drop in violence was emboldening them to encourage foreigners to return and restore the heyday of Iraqi tourism.

It may not be an impossible mission, but it is a hard one. Three decades of war and terrorism have taken their toll on Iraq's treasures. The al-Askari shrine is being rebuilt after a bomb destroyed it in 2006.

Baghdad Museum was looted after the US-led invasion in 2003, and US troops were accused of harming artefacts when they built a base at the site of Babylon.
The 99ft Arch of Ctesiphon - part of what was once the largest city in the world - was damaged in the Gulf War, and the city of Nineveh, the site of modern Mosul, is in an area too dangerous to explore.

Neshwar al-Joubouri, 32, a Tourist Ministry employee, bemoaned the state of the industry and the damage to historic sites. “We are always saying that we do not have a future but we have a history. Now it feels as though we have no history and no future,” she said.
Amid claims that the security situation is improving, there are stark reminders of the dangers. On Tuesday two suicide bombers left at least 28 Iraqi army recruits dead in a province northeast of Baghdad. Two US soldiers have also been killed this week. Article Continues here ...

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