Open for Tourism?

By | Category: Travel rumblings

Yesterday the National Museum in Baghdad re-opened after six years of closure. After the invasion in 2003, there were exaggerated reports of the museum being ransacked whilst US troops were nearby. It appears 15,000 artifacts out of hundreds of thousands were removed, some, it is thought, as a result of organised crime. Items turned up in the Philippines, Syria, Jordan, Peru and even on e-bay.
Now with a lot of Italian and US assistance, 8 out of the 26 halls have been reopened. But there are ceiling cracks and much still needs to be done so why was it re-opened?
It appears that the ministry of tourism wanted to reopen the museum whilst the ministry of culture wanted to wait claiming that there was insufficient security for the exhibits. The culture ministry, it was quoted in one report, was the senior ministry and therefore if they said it would not reopen then the tourism ministry could whistle.
I think yesterday reveals two things.
By pushing to reopen the museum, the tourism ministry was trying to show the world that normalty was coming back to Iraq and that normality meant that Iraq was open for tourism. Most of the world might disagree but is little things like this that can help to restore confidence. And probably the culture ministry was right to be concerned fearing that items might go walkabout again. But tourism is so important to a national economy that economics and the need to attract the money that tourists bring in to a country overide other considerations.

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