Western Tourists Return to Iraq (With Armed Guards)
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 14, 2009 12:19 PM CST
An Iraqi road sweeper working on a busy street in Baghdad, during the 1960s. There are mosques and minarets in the background.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – A group of tourists is heading to Iraq next month for a whirlwind tour of a dozen sites including Baghdad, Babylon, and Basra, the Daily Telegraph reports. It’s the first time Westerners have dared vacation in the country since 2003, and the Surrey-based Hinterland Travel organizing the tour isn’t taking any chances. The travelers will be protected by armed guards and forbidden from leaving their hotels at night or venturing out alone.

“We’re seeing the beginnings of a new Iraq,” said the company’s managing director. “They want normality, and tourism is part of that.” Everyone acknowledges that the trip is risky, but the travelers, who include two Americans and four Britons, among others, don’t mind. “Most people are interested in seeing your holiday photos afterward,” said one of the Britons, “even if they think you’re a bit mad for going.”