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Archive for Monday, October 13, 2008

Oktoberfest organizer hopes to lure tourists

October 13, 2008

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— Dirndl-clad waitresses deliver frothy beers, the brass band has the oom-pah music in full drive and there are sausages on the grill. Welcome to Iraq?

It may still be a far cry from the Oktoberfest party in Munich, Germany, that draws 6 million people each year. But Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq is looking to cash in on the relative peace with new investment and - despite the challenge of attracting foreigners to one of the world's most dangerous countries - perhaps the beginnings of a tourism industry.

In Irbil, a city 217 miles north of Baghdad, German beer house owner Gunter Voelker wants to dispel the notion that Iraq isn't a holiday destination.

"It is good to have an area here in Iraq where we can make this festival in peace with friends," said Voelker, whose restaurant, the Deutscher Hof Erbil, ended its three-night celebration of the famed German beer festival early Sunday.

"We can make this festival with Iraqi people, Turkish people, Kurdish people, American people, German people, with (people from) all over the world in peace and in a real good mood," he said.

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