In which we present a regular round-up of news from the world of Grown-up Travel
Iraq Draws U.S. Hotel Operators Banking on Business Travel
Iraq, after eight years of occupation by American troops, is luring U.S. hotel operators and developers betting on growth from business expansion and an eventual pickup in leisure travel to the war-torn region.
Best Western International Inc. plans two hotels under its Premier brand in Erbil, Iraq’s fourth-largest city and the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan in the northern part of the country. Marriott International Inc. expects to operate two properties in the city. Hilton Worldwide, owned by Blackstone Group LP, is planning a 200-room Hilton DoubleTree Suites in Erbil.
The hotel companies are following growth in Iraq by businesses including General Electric Co. and Exxon Mobil Corp. as the U.S. prepares to withdraw its remaining troops by the end of the year. The Kurdistan region, in particular, is attractive for hospitality projects because of its relative safety and decades of neglect under Saddam Hussein’s regime, said Stephen Lari, principal at New York-based Claremont Group, which is spending $32 million to develop Erbil’s Hilton DoubleTree.
Slide Show: Celebrity Travel Failures of 2011
Peter Greenberg Worldwide
If the year 2011 taught us anything, it was that being famous doesn’t exempt you from being groped, detained, kicked off a flight, or otherwise treated just the same as the rest of us. For all the benefits that celebrities have on land, in the airport terminal, the security line, and in the air, some stars found out the hard way that the TSA is the great equalizer. Here is our roundup of celebrities who ran afoul while flying.
Russia, EU move towards visa-free travel
Russia and the European Union agreed on Thursday on moves towards visa-free travel and funds for indebted euro zone countries, but they failed to make any breakthrough on long-term energy disagreements.
Advances towards visa-free travel depend on the implementation of a number of “common steps” such as introducing biometric passports and preventing illegal migration.
“This decision has clear potential benefits to our citizens and for people-to-people contacts,” said European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, who participated in EU-Russia summit. “But this will probably not happen next year.”
‘Halal’ tourism: No more booze and bikinis in Egypt
CONSERVATIVE Egyptian political parties want to ban mixed-bathing, alcohol and bikinis in the country’s beach-side resorts.
At the foot of the ancient Pyramids, tour guides and vendors are divided over the affects an Islamist-dominated parliament might have on the lucrative tourist industry.
Islamic parties are expected to win the country’s current parliamentary elections, hands down, with some ultra-conservative candidates calling for “halal” tourism.
Much of the buzz has been sparked by calls from Salafists, running under the Al-Nur party banner, which wants to ban alcohol, bikinis and mixed bathing.
“We do not want to ban tourism. On the contrary, we want revenue from tourism to multiply,” said Al-Nur party spokesman, Nader Bakkar, on Egyptian satellite channel CBC on Saturday.