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First Western Tourists Visit Iraq

March 23, 2009 by  
Filed under Travel News

Iraq has spent the last 6 years in the mist of a bloody war. With the surge slowing down violence, the door has opened for very limited ‘adventure’ travel in the country. The first Western tour group has recently returned from a visit to Iraq. The three-week trip was organized by a British adventure tourism outfit that brought along 5 Britons, 2 Americans, and a Canadian for the trip. Needless to say, travel insurance was not available for the eight travelers.
iraq-kurds-land.jpg Iraq (Kurdish North) © James Dale 10

It is difficult to conceive the lure of visiting a war-torn nation as a “tourist.” It would be a compelling destination for travel journalists or photographers looking to document the events, but seems an unusual choice for others. Of course, the tour group who visited Iraq had individuals with an inclination toward dangerous travel. Most of them also visited Afghanistan recently.

Would you visit Iraq or another war-torn country? Should tourists be allowed to visit the most dangerous countries in the world?

Read about a possible end to Cuba travel restrictions or about two nonprofit websites that help people from around the world.
gennaro-salamone-photo.jpgGennaro Salamone is the founder and editor of Enduring Wanderlust. Feel free to contact him with questions, comments, or inquiries with reference to contributing a travel article or photograph for publication.


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18 Responses to “First Western Tourists Visit Iraq”
  1. Tyler says:

    That’s a little early to be buying a tour to Iraq. Violence has slowed down, but lots of deaths are happening daily there. Even if they’re going to protected areas, that’s a bit much. I wouldn’t go yet. Not for a year after it’s calm and stable. I don’t think there should be restrictions though. People can make up their own minds.

  2. Arn says:

    Part of me thinks it would be pretty cool to be the first group to go in. The other part thinks of my family and friends. I’d likely go with the second. One day I’d like to check it out though. Hopefully they get back on their feet. I’m interested in Mesopotamian history. I would expect countries to restrict travel to a country that’s still in war.

  3. Gennaro says:


    I tend to agree that it’s a bit early for tour groups to be going through Iraq. There are plenty of countries to visit. Why take the risk? We’re not talking high crime rate, the country isn’t stable yet.


    Iraq has an interesting story especially the ancient history. State Departments tend to give warning to countries that can be traveled to with caution. This is a case where the war is too recent. You can argue that it’s not even over. There is plus side to this: things must be calming on the ground.

  4. Yen says:

    Not on my list any time soon. I wonder what they are trying to prove by going to Iraq. Doesn’t seem lke adventure to me. Climbing Everest is adventure.

  5. I wouldn’t want to go right now. Not only because of the danger but also for the shame of what my country has done. I don’t think people should be restricted though – let them go wherever they want.

  6. Gennaro says:


    I with you on Everest being the adventure.

    @Kim Woodbridge

    Better off without too many restrictions as it ends up like Cuba…never ending.

  7. Kimmy says:

    Already? Wow. I just spent the last year hearing the politicians from the election talk about the life or death situation there. I’d like to go one day, but not yet. Not to Afghanistan either and I have no problem with most countrues on the travel warning list. No restrictions though by countries unless a full war is taking place.

  8. Nisha says:

    There is a lot to see there. A rich history. I’d consider it. It would have to be only to certain safer areas. I don’t think government restrictions are necessary. People can get around it anyway. It’s not like there are flights to Iraq.

  9. Gennaro says:


    The State Department warning list goes a bit far on some places in an effort to keep us safe, but Iraq and Afghanistan are obviously accurate in terms of danger. I’m interested to see if this tourism increases. They did get home safely.


    There is a lot of interesting history there. And it’s true. Trips will be private. No flights for a couple of years, at least.

  10. J.D. Meier says:

    It’s funny how our values dramatically shape our perspective.

    One person’s trash is another’s treasure and perspective makes all the difference in the world.

    I bet adventure, danger, and history are a at the core.

  11. Ryan Viers says:

    I say to each their own. Those people that went to Iraq probably had a blast. But, that is one trip that is not even on my long list of things to do.

    The great thing about this world is that there is something for everyone, there is even something for those that want to leave this world (for a short time at least) as evidenced by Gennaro’s early post about Richard Branson and his Space Tourism.

  12. Gennaro says:

    @J.D. Meier

    Perspective does go a long way in determining our travels and a lot of other things.


    The interviews that I read showed that they did have a good time there. In the end, you’re right. Each person picks the things they like. Following that happiness isn’t to far behind.

  13. Wow!As much as I love to travel, this is one trip that I think comes way too soon.

    I recently was telling someone that I never was concerned about being an American in a foreign country until the Iraq War. I lived in Asia for about 6 months back in 2004 and it was the first time where being an American was a negative. I kept telling everyone that not every American voted for Bush but it did not matter. So I would hold off visiting Iraq for a long time. I have heard it is beautiful…so maybe when things calm down.

  14. Gennaro says:


    I’m thinking it’s a select few that will go in the next couple of years. It will still be there after that to visit and a lot safer though to each their own as Ryan mentioned. Thinking there is a renewed faith in America these days. Let’s hope that builds in the coming years along with the economy.

  15. Sire says:

    I reckon I would be the first to visit Iraq, if I had a death wish, and seeing as how I hope to spend a lot more time on this earth I think I will concentrate on some of the many beautiful safer destinations.

  16. Gennaro says:


    I think most are in your camp with this one.


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