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Cablegate: Najaf Announces Inaugural Tourism Conference, Calls For

VZCZCXRO7639
PP RUEHBC RUEHDA RUEHDE RUEHKUK
DE RUEHIHL #0019 0571817
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 261817Z FEB 08
FM REO HILLAH
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1037
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 0004
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 0004
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 0004
RUEHDE/AMCONSUL DUBAI PRIORITY 0001
RUEHMK/AMEMBASSY MANAMA PRIORITY 0001
RUEHIHL/REO HILLAH 1100

UNCLAS HILLAH 000019

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS
BAGHDAD FOR FCS-FRANK CARRICO, ECON-RICHARDS, POL-HOLT, PAO-NANTONGO
AMMAN FOR FCS - PLEASE PASS TO AMCHAM
BEIRUT FOR FCS - PLEASE PASS TO AMCHAM
CAIRO FOR FCS - PLEASE PASS TO AMCHAM
DUBAI FOR FCS - PLEASE PASS TO AMCHAM
MANAMA FOR FCS - PLEASE PASS TO AMCHAM

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL ECIN ECON KPAO SOCI SCUL IZ
SUBJECT: NAJAF ANNOUNCES INAUGURAL TOURISM CONFERENCE, CALLS FOR
INTERNATIONAL TOURISM INDUSTRY TO PARTICIPATE

1. (U) This is a PRT Najaf Cable.

2. (U) Summary. In a February 7 meeting with PRT Najaf, the
Najaf Provincial Council (PC) Tourism Committee announced that
it decided to hold the three-day tourism conference April 5 - 7,
in conjunction with Iraqi Tourism Week, which will begin on
April 1 with activities in Erbil and Basrah. The Conference will
include panel discussions of technical issues needed for the
development of the tourism industry, and a showcasing of Najaf's
potential tourist attractions. The planners are preparing for
about three hundred attendees, including hotel and travel
associations, related businesses, international business persons
from the travel/tourism industry, and government officials. PRT
and coalition representatives are welcome to attend. Third
Infantry Division (3ID) has committed to assisting with security
for the conference. This is an action cable. See action request
para seven and eight. End Summary.

3. (U) On February 7, the Najaf Tourism Committee, headed by PC
Tourism Committee Chair Sheikh (and hawza member) Fayid Al
Shimerti met with the PRT to discuss plans for the PRT-supported
Najaf Tourism Conference. The Committee selected April 5 - 7 as
dates for the tourism conference, which will enable the
conference to dovetail with other events of Iraqi Tourism Week,
beginning April 1 with events in Basrah and Erbil. The meeting
also served to introduce the Tourism Committee members to DAI
(USAID contractor-implementing partner) representatives, Jon
Weibe and Azzad Saeed, as they will be responsible for
administering the USD100,000 grant that was approved by the
Embassy's Technical Evaluation Committee in December.

4. (U) The Tourism Committee reported on the work they
accomplished for the conference, including the creation of five
sub-committees each with its own budget from the grant. The
Provincial Government has agreed to contribute USD50,000 to the
conference to cover expenses for which the QRF grant is not
authorized, such as security and rental of the conference space.
Deliverables for the conference will be the announcement of the
establishment of a Tourism Information Center in Najaf, as well
as new Tourism Training courses in conjunction with Kufa
University.

5. (U) DAI's Senior Program Development Officer and PRT Liaison
Jon Weibe outlined DAI's role in the administration of the IRAP
grant, explaining that the money would be disbursed in tranches
through a fixed obligation mechanism. Contact information was
exchanged so that DAI and the Financial sub-committee for the
conference planning could continue their cooperative efforts via
email and telephone communication. The PRT will continue to meet
regularly with the PC Tourism Committee to monitor progress.

6. (SBU) Comment: This conference will be an opportunity to
showcase Najaf as a tourism destination and a chance for Najaf
to display itself as an open-minded, welcoming city. The Najaf
authorities are in the process of reaching out to the wider
international community, building a new airport, and welcoming
international participants to this conference. They have
specifically invited PRT/coalition representatives to take part.
They have also asked the PRT to help secure participation of
fifteen to twenty American/international travel/hospitality
industry participants. They have asked 3ID to help with security
arrangements at the venue, which will take place at Kufa
University's auditorium. End Comment.

7. (SBU) Action request: 3ID has committed to assisting with
security for the conference. To the extent that RSO Hilla
assets are required to support this activity, PRT requests that
OPA and RSO Baghdad coordinate that support.

8. (SBU) Action request: For FCS Baghdad, Amman, Cairo, Dubai,
Beirut and Manama: We would welcome your reaching out your
respective American Chambers of Commerce and relevant business
contacts in the travel/hospitality/airline industry to inform
them of this conference. If any company representatives are
interested in attending they can contact PRT Najaf at email
kellysh@state.gov.

SIMMONS

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