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Monday, November 07, 2005 

Jamaica, Aruba, Italy, Baghdad? (Five Star Hotel Plans, With RPG Shields!)

In “war torn” Iraq, where “civil war” is only a half heartbeat away at all times:

(The Independent) A £48m, five-star, 23-storey hotel rising in the city centre; an opulent palace complex being turned into a theme park; cheap flights to the picturesque "Venice of the east" - all the trappings of a country gearing up for a tourist boom. The building will have to be built to withstand mortar and rocket attack, just as the one major existing hotel in the Green Zone, Al Rashid, was built to do. Despite the carnage outside and its shabby appearance, the Rashid can still charge $150 (£86) a night.

Then I almost choked on my coffee as I read this part:

Basra in the south has already officially declared itself open for tourism. But, says an official: "Tourists should dress like locals and maybe dye their hair. And they should have armed guards and they should be always vigilant."

I applaud their efforts to achieve normalcy, but this reads more like a Saturday Night Live skit, than a serious Tourist Commission press release.