Tourism in Iraq? Not just yet
With Iraqi government keen to promote the country as a tourist hotspot, here is what you should know before buying the airline ticket. How do I get there?
With Iraqi government keen to promote the country as a tourist hotspot, here is what you should know before buying the airline ticket.
How do I get there?
There are no direct commercial flights for intrepid travellers from the UK. British Airways, which flew to Iraq for 60 years until 1991, holds the rights to the Baghdad route under the Air Services Agreement of 1951 between Britain and Iraq.
Although BA bosses said they were looking at a new direct route to Baghdad in 2003 those plans are still under review.
Baghdad International is closed to commercial flights while Basra is receiving a limited number of commercial flights (around 75 a week). Other airlines go to Irbil in Iraqi Kurdistan in the north of the country.
Austrian Airlines is offering return flights next month, costing just over £1,000, from Heathrow to Irbil, via Vienna.
What can I see I get there?
Ancient sites dating back thousands of years, including the site of the hanging gardens of Babylon and Abraham’s house at Ur.
The Foreign Office makes clear that holidaying in Iraq is very dangerous and, advised against travelling to Baghdad or Basra among other towns and cities.
It says: “The security situation in Iraq remains highly dangerous with a continuing high threat of terrorism throughout the country.” Other risks include “violence and kidnapping targeting foreign nationals”.
Other concerns include inadvertently breaking curfews that can be lengthened at short notice, and a risk of catching bird flu (which last killed anyone two years ago).
What should I take?
Passport, a visa and malaria tablets for some parts of the country. Other jabs are also required. Sun block, a hat and strong boots. Travellers are advised to get good insurance and hire security to look after them.
Where can I get help?
The British Embassy in Baghdad offers a limited service but there is no formal consular help in Basra. There is more advice at www.fco.gov.uk