PR Challenge: Despite having its own semiautonomous regional government, Kurdistan still sees its share of violence from the war. And of course, in 2009, three Americans were snatched by Iranian security forces as they hiked along the border.
In the Hot Seat: Geoffrey Hann, owner of London-based Hinterland Travel, which operated four vacation tours of Iraq in 2011
The Spin: “We crossed the border from Iraqi Kurdistan to Iran several times this year, though nobody knows what will happen now that Britain has closed its Iranian embassy. We always have proper documentation, we travel with two security guards supplied by the Kurdish minister of tourism, and we get police escorts in certain places. Finding guides and translators in the region is a problem, but in November I found some reliable people who can help me lead treks next year.”