Travel news wrap: Iraq tourism, staying with locals, A380 update

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Lonely Planet's three intrepid travel editors bring you news from another bumper week in travel.

Iraq: next big tourism destination?

This week brought the biggest wigs in tourism to London for World Travel Market. This annual gathering, held in the cavernous Excel Centre in east London brings tourist offices, hoteliers and all manner of extras flocking to the British capital. We arranged icy winds and heavy rain as a welcome.

World Travel Market’s most contentious suggestion was that Iraq is experiencing a tourism revival. The evidence is there: 1.3 million visitors from overseas last year, and a Tourism Ministry in Kurdistan in the north busy enough to have 500 employees. Iraq had a stand at WTM for the first time in a decade and gave away some tasteful white caps, surely the must-have freebie of the week. You can fly to Iraq from six European countries and there are whispers of cruise ships calling. Anyone planning on going? - Tom Hall, UK travel editor

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Paying to stay with a local just got easier

AirBnB, the booking site that allows travellers to get private apartments in 8000 cities worldwide, has raised $7.2 million to expand its business, per a blog post on the New York Times. Despite new regulations that limit short-term rentals in New York beginning May 1, this is good news for travellers tired of expensive, cramped hotel rooms in cities like New York.

It's a step up from CouchSurfing.com, as its listings are generally for full private homes, or private rooms (frequently with bathroom) in hosted homes. Staying in private rentals, frequently, puts travellers in more local neighbourhoods, offers more space, at much better prices. Many travellers book private accommodation via sites like Craigslist, though options swell in summer only. - Robert Reid, US travel editor

Airbus A380 engines update

After Qantas' engine incident last week, several other airlines have decided to take a closer look at their A380s equipped with Rolls Royce Trent 900 engines. While the engineers at Rolls Royce are keeping their cards close to their chest, several airlines have taken precautionary steps with their A380s.

Qantas, Singapore Airlines and Lufthansa have reported that they've complied with a third directive about the Trent 900 engines this year. Qantas has grounded their A380 fleet temporarily (with a possibility that this could carry on over the summer peak period) and Singapore Airlines has grounded three A380s for engine changes after oil stains were discovered. Lufthansa is keeping its jets in the air but has reportedly replaced one engine. What does this mean for travellers? Flights on A380 routes may be fuller than usual in the next couple of months. Start booking your seats if you haven't already done so. - Shawn Low, Asia-Pacific travel editor

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