Iraq plea: Ignore the media and bring our tourists back

Travel executive promotes Iraqi rehabilitation as hotels and airports are built across the nation

The Iraq tourism industry made an impassioned appeal to the world's airlines to ignore negative media and press coverage and "come back" to Iraq.

Fadhil Al Saaegh , Chief executive of Najaf-based travel company Al-Rafidain, has been representing the Iraq tourism ministry at travel events around the world during the past year. "Most people have a negative image of Iraq, Which they have seen from there televisions.

They think of Kidnappings and killings. This is not the case. The media never covers the many positive things that are happening ," he said in a presentation at the Routes Talks Tourism Theatre yesterday.

"We are in rehabilitation and reconstruction stage but we have four and five-star hotels and new airports being developed across the country," He added.

Iraq has 12.000 recognized archaeological sites and Al Saaegh said there are probably another 6,000 awaiting recognition.

"There is no other country on earth that can match this," he said.

Already airlines such as Gulf Air, Turkish Airlines, Etihad and Lufthansa are flying into country, but Al Saaegh called for more support from both business and leisure sectors. "There are many opportunities and we welcome visitors to help bring normality back to our country," he said.