B.C.-based tour operator Adventures Abroad is launching tours to Kurdistan, calling it the one part of war-torn Iraq where the chance of targeted violence against foreigners is "extremely low." Controlled by the Kurdish regional government, Kurdistan boasts historical and archeological sites in a setting of valleys and mountains. There are also trucks "with balaclava-clad soldiers manning heavy machine guns," the company says. Travellers fly into the capital Erbil, bypassing Baghdad. Land-only prices start at $3,490 for May 26 and Sept. 22 departures. Details: adventures-abroad.com.
Travel spreads peace, according to global travellers and opinion leaders from eight countries. In a study conducted for Marriott International, 77 per cent of 1,100 respondents agreed that "the more people experience other countries and cultures, the more peace will spread." As well, 48 per cent said travel is the most effective tool for breaking down cultural barriers. Percentages for other choices were 30 for the Internet, 9 for television/movies and 9 for political diplomacy. Ninety-six per cent agreed that travel stimulates the economy.
In the room
Hotel loyalty programs trump love, a study by Starwood Hotels is concluding. Asked to choose between bringing their spouse/partner or receiving hotel loyalty rewards while travelling, 73 per cent of respondents chose the rewards plan. The questions were put to 9,900 adults from around the world who travel more than 25 times a year. Sixty-five per cent said they were more scared of losing their status in a hotel program than of lost luggage (12 per cent) or missing a flight (11 per cent).
Sources: Adventures Abroad, Marriott, Starwood.
Special to The Globe and Mail