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Najaf Airport, Iraq Travel, Iraq Tourism
Alaa al-Marjani/AP
Najaf Airport, Iraq

Iraq Urges Tourism, Despite Dangers

July 23, 2008 01:22 PM
by Sarah Amandolare
With the violent insurgency waning, Iraq is working harder to promote its tourism industry, but the United States warns travelers against making the trip.

30-Second Summary

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Attracting tourists will be an uphill battle for Iraq, as many historic archaeological sites were heavily damaged in the war.

Additionally, the U.S. Department of State discourages travelers from heading to Iraq because of security concerns.

“Besides the threat to safety, tourists would face other problems, including a lack of infrastructure such as rundown hotels and overstretched medical facilities,” reported the Boston Herald.

However, a new airport has been completed and is now functioning in Najaf, a Shiite holy city. Officials hope the airport will attract more religious pilgrims, thousands of whom already travel to Najaf each year.

Bringing tourists to other Iraqi locales could be more challenging. After invading Iraq in 2003, the United States chose Al-Hillah, the present-day site of the ancient city of Babylon, as a base for military operations, resulting in great damage to its archaeological sites. However, the UN and wealthy donors are funding restoration efforts.

Other attempts by Iraq to promote tourism have been made in recent years, and some areas of the country seem poised for resurgence.

Reuters points out that “massive investment” will be needed to create jobs and “cement security gains” before tourism can truly take off.

Headline Links: Iraq’s new hope

Background: Tourism’s baby steps

Related Topic: Bringing Babylon back

Reference: Travel advice and warnings

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