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Tourist numbers up in post-war Afghanistan | Tourism News

His soldier son toured Afghanistan with fighters in his crosshairs, however US traveller Oscar Wells has a special goal – sightseeing promoted by the Taliban’s fledgling tourism sector.

Marvelling on the 15th century Blue Mosque in northern Mazar-i-Sharif, 65-year-old Wells is amongst a small however rising variety of travellers visiting Afghanistan for the reason that warfare’s finish.

Many years of battle made tourism in Afghanistan extraordinarily uncommon, and whereas most violence has now abated, guests are nonetheless confronted with excessive poverty, dilapidated cultural websites and scant hospitality infrastructure.

They vacation underneath the austere management of the Taliban authorities, and with out consular assist, with most embassies evacuated following the autumn of the Western-backed authorities in 2021.

They have to register with officers on arrival in every province, adjust to a strict gown code and undergo searches at checkpoints.

ISIL (ISIS) assaults additionally pose a possible risk within the nation.

The variety of international vacationers visiting Afghanistan rose 120 % 12 months on 12 months in 2023, reaching almost 5,200, in line with official figures.

The Taliban authorities has but to be formally recognised by any nation, partly due to its heavy restrictions on ladies, but it surely has welcomed international tourism.

“Afghanistan’s enemies don’t current the nation in mild,” mentioned Data and Tradition Minister Khairullah Khairkhwa.

“But when these folks come and see what it’s actually like,” he added, “they’ll positively share picture of it.”

Wells, on a visit with journey firm Untamed Borders, which additionally presents excursions of Syria and Somalia, describes his go to as a technique to join with Afghanistan’s folks.

He describes a “sense of guilt for the departure” of United States troops.

“I actually felt we had a horrible exit, it created such a vacuum and catastrophe,” he mentioned. “It’s good to assist these folks and preserve relations.”

For solo traveller Stefanie Meier, a 53-year-old US citizen who spent a month travelling from Kabul to Kandahar through Bamiyan and Herat within the west, it was a “bittersweet expertise”.

“I’ve been capable of meet folks I by no means thought I’d meet, who instructed me about their life,” she mentioned, including that she didn’t face any points as a girl on her personal.

She did expertise “disbelief that folks should dwell like this”, she added. “The poverty, there are not any jobs, ladies not with the ability to go to high school, no future for them.”

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