Iraq and Tourism: The power of Babylon
You would never imagine that the words Iraq and tourism could ever be together in a context of tourism development but that is what’s happening right now. There is a new project in town and it is aimed to help the preservation of the ruins of Babylon and hopefully, soon enough, the country will be able to get back into the tourism map just like many other Middle Eastern countries are pushing for in the past few years. 2011 is a good year for the Babylon. Works are being done already funded by the US State Department with a value of $2 million. The plan is to restore to major structures that already started. The plan also involves restoration of a couple of museums that were ravaged due to the aftermath of the invasion initiated by the US.
Iraq is the home to some ancient cities and sites just like the biblical city of Ur which is also the capital of the Sumerian civilization. There is a time crunch to preserve these majestic ruins since the sites are under the attack of looters, the environmental changes as well as modernization. Babylon is the crown jewel of this program, the tower that once held the hanging gardens is hoped to be preserved in order to rehabilitate the position of Iraq in the tourism industry and share its amazing archeological treasures to the world.
According to Jeff Allen from the World Monuments Fund, Babylon is being used as a laboratory for skill building and the government of Iraq is now trying to get support from UNESCO in order to enlist the Babylon and protection of the site. The site may be the most important issues for the country but developing and pushing for a UNESCO acclaim is very necessary and will help improving their popularity. This site holds the identity of the Iraqi people. The appeal of this sit e is so mesmerizing, even in 2004, when the war has broken out, groups of Christian tourists wanted to take a visit in this monument of Iraqi heritage.
There is massive potential to revive the tourism industry of Iraq with the help of the monumental structures. Just in 2010, the number of people who visited Babel, also the original named of Babylon, reached 165 and that is with all the military issues and wars going on in the country at that time. Even with volatile conditions, many are willing to take the risk to visit the site. The US still reminds the tourists that a number of insurgents are still lurking in Iraq and it is not advised yet to travel for tourism.
With the reconstruction of Babylon, there are also plans to develop a new airport. It is also necessary to safeguard the whole site which holds original remains of the once majestic location. It is also necessary to remove the poorly built and inaccurate palace during the reign of Saddam Hussein which could cost tons of dollars. The project is aimed to slowly bus precisely give justice to the archeological sites that are close to the hearts of Iraqi people.