Economy

Badakhshan sees spike in tourism amid improved security

By Hedayatullah

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A team of Afghan mountaineers is seen August 6 at the summit of Noshakh in the Hindu Kush mountains in Badakhshan Province. It is the highest peak in Afghanistan at 7,492 metres. [Badakhshan Department of Tourism]

KUNDUZ -- Tourism in Badakhshan Province, curbed for years because of militant activity in the region, is flourishing again amid improved security, local authorities say.

In 2019 (solar year 1398), 472 foreign visitors and 45,000 Afghan tourists visited the region, said Sediqi Lalzad, director of tourism at the Information and Culture Directorate of Badakhshan Province.

"Foreign tourists from 38 countries such as the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Italy, the United States and other countries entered Badakhshan via Tajikistan last year and visited the province," Lalzad said.

"Foreign and local tourists are visiting Ishkashim, Sheghnan, Shuhada, Wakhan, and parts of Faizabad city, the provincial capital," he said. "They buy and take with them handicrafts and other products made by women and other residents of Badakhshan as souvenirs."

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A British tourist listens to a local musician in Ishkashim District, Badakhshan Province, on October 19, 2018. [Badakhshan Department of Tourism]

According to local officials, tourism generated more than $900,000 (70 million AFN) in revenue last year.

Many foreign tourists have been unable to visit the region this year as the border between Tajikistan and Afghanistan was closed this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Lalzad said.

Still, local tourists from different provinces have been able to visit the area, he added, without providing the number of visitors.

Attracting tourists

During their visits, foreign and local tourists buy local products and handicrafts in the joint Afghanistan-Tajikistan women's market established three years ago in Ishkashim District, said Sayed Abdullah Noori, a resident and shop owner in Ishkashim.

"I sell Afghan clothes, scarfs, handkerchiefs, embroideries, purses, shoes, and other Afghan products that are made by women," he said. "Usually, foreign tourists spend between $100-$500 (7,800-39,000 AFN) each buying local handicrafts of Badakhshan in the summer."

"If the social and political situation in the country improves, the economy will grow and the country will become self-sufficient," he added.

With the average amount of money each foreign tourist spent in Badakhshan last year estimated at about $2,000 (156,000 AFN), local residents are the biggest beneficiaries of the resurgence in tourism, said Lalzad the tourism director.

"The renewal of business licences for tourist companies, for hotels, for guesthouses, for tourist guides, for transportation, for translators and other services is behind the increase in local revenues," he added.

In addition to handicrafts and other locally made goods, Badakhshan's lush environment, featuring dense forests, wildlife, lakes and waterfalls, is a draw for tourists.

More than 800 species of birds exist in different parts of the region, said Naqibullah Saqibyar, director of the Information and Culture Directorate of Badakhshan.

"There are no obstacles for tourists right now in Badakhshan Province. They can visit the beautiful nature of Badakhshan without any problems," said Sanaullah Rohani, a spokesman for the Badakhshan Police.

Local development

In addition to improving security and providing facilities for tourism, the development of local markets and joint border bazaars could further strengthen tourism and improve the economy in the province, say economic analysts.

The government must first ensure reliable security to attract more foreign visitors for the tourism industry to continue to flourish, said Hashmatullah Ahadi, an economic analyst in Badakhshan Province.

"Local and foreign tourists visit attractive sites in Badakhshan every year, which leads to an increase in revenue for both the government and the local population," he said.

"The government should work to improve security and build hotels, recreational areas and roads to better connect with Tajikistan and the joint border markets so that this industry can grow even more," Ahadi said. "Tourism, being a profitable industry, can help develop the local economy in this province."

In addition to improving security, the local government in Badakhshan Province has provided transportation services for tourists, said Naik Muhammad Nazari, a spokesman for the Badakhshan governor.

As a high-income industry, tourism is a high priority for the local government, and with the support of the security forces, it is working hard to improve security, said Nazari.

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Part two: The main problem of people who are very much in trouble on the way is eating, drinking, and going to the toilet, especially the females who are very much insulted. When the bus stops for observing prayers, men can get off, pee and make ablution. They don’t have any problem, but where do you think the females should urinate? What should the females do in the plane land where their naked body is seen from 200 meters away? Is it religiously, culturally, traditionally acceptable? Is such an act approved in European countries where the people are open minded? Of course, it is not. You see the price of a ticket from Herat to Kabul from Ahmad Shah Abdali Travel Agency and others is AFN 1050. It is better that the government should force these travel agencies to build a lot of toilets and washrooms on the way and at stations so that people can get rid of this problem. By God, these travel agencies have given people more trouble than political parties. Political parties kill people with bullets and guns, but these travel agencies kill them with laughter, deception and trickery. How long should the honor of the people be insulted? By God, people do not eat anything one day before the trip for they are scared of getting sick on the way, because there are no toilets on the way. Later travelers develop all kinds of stomach problems. I strictly request your news website to bring this problem to the attention of the authorities. Each travel agency must build a specific station with

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Greetings and regards to the chief editor of Salaam Times. First of all, thank you for your very beautiful news website. Secondly, I wanted to ask you, are the comments, suggestions and criticisms of our suffering people, who read your news website, brought to the attention of high-ranking officials or not? Did you convey the people's complaints and problems to the relevant authorities through this website? Have the authorities taken any measures to solve people's problems or not? If they have, please send us an example of your news link. I will be grateful. Like other citizens of the country, I would like to give comment about a very serious problem of travelers. Travelers who want to go from Herat to Kabul or Kandahar or other provinces face a lot of difficulties on the way. As you know, our people live below the poverty line in terms of economy, and 90% of our people cannot travel by air and are obliged to travel by land on 404 buses. In addition, people suffer from lack of 100% security. They are very much in trouble due to the carelessness and negligence of the drivers and travel agencies. Our government is so incompetent and senseless that it cannot take even its own security. How can they take security of the people? People go through this long journey with a thousand worries and concerns. And at any moment, the danger of traffic accidents and thieves is threatening them. However, this has been solved by Taliban and the road has been cleared of thieves and bandits to s

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May almighty Allah bring peace in Afghanistan so that we can see all the beautiful areas of the country.

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Afghanistan has hundreds of tourist attraction sites. If security situation improves in the country, Afghanistan can earn millions of dollars annually only through tourism. Afghanistan is a country which has different seasons and different climatic zones. If you travel to some provinces of north and northeast of the country during summer season, you will see the snow and if you travel some provinces of south and Nangarhar province in winter, you will see the spring season there. Very few countries of the world have such pleasant climates. The world community must first and foremost bring peace to this country. When peace comes to this country, the economy of the government and people will improve on their own, and then the International Community will not have concern about helping Afghanistan forever. Afghanistan's main problem is security, not economic problems. The International Community should try to build infrastructural projects in Afghanistan. These projects will make Afghanistan self-sufficient.

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