Floating odyssey

The southern Iraqi port city of Umm Qasr is set to see the arrival of the first business standard accommodation in the region when the floating Odysseus hotel docks later this month.

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By  John Irish Published  July 13, 2003

Businessmen, aid workers and journalists working in southern Iraq will have access to first class business accommodation from the end of July after the British government, which administers the south, granted a licence for a new offshore hotel.

The 450-berth cruise ship, named Odysseus, will dock just off the coast of Umr Qasr from July 28.

“There is an [accommodation] gap that we’re filling,” Tony Ross, CEO of Henry Pluge, part of the Hong Kong-based Mayhill group which will operate the vessel told the Dow Jones Newswire. “The few basic hotels operating in Basra don’t offer the services business travellers are used to.”

The group will also set up a business centre on the ship with a view to providing efficient telephone, fax and Internet services.

While much of the vessel is already reserved for unnamed US civilian contractors and aid agencies working in southern Iraq, Ross stressed that 25% of the capacity would be available for those in need of rest and recuperation.

Meanwhile, the group confirmed that it is to operate a daily bus service between Iraq’s main southern port city of Basra to Umm Qasr on the Kuwaiti border, as well as introducing a fortnightly return flight to London Gatwick from Basra International Airport.

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