Poll crisis hits Bamyan tourism industry
BAMYAN CITY (Pajhwok): The undecided electoral process and growing insecurity on highways have hit hard the tourism industry in central Bamyan province this season.
Businesses of six hotels designed for foreign tourists in this historically important province have declined in recent months due the uncertain situation in the country.
The union tourism of the provincial information and culture department says the six hotels cost $5 million and have recently been built on international standards and construction work on a seventh such hotel, a $2.5 million project, is nearing completion.
Qadir Poya, marketing in-charge of the union tourism, said the hotels could accommodate 1,000 tourists at a time and facilities foreign tourists looked for had been made available in their rooms.
He told Pajhwok Afghan News these hotels offered foreign meals, internet and others facilities and the staff received special training on how to treat visitors.
In addition, there are 26 other hotels for the same purpose and have the capacity to accommodate 1,200 guests.
Poya said 400 people working in these new hotels were trained and able to speak and understand English.
“Tourism bolsters economy, however, the recent electoral crisis and the increasing militants’ activities on highways have resulted in a decreased number of tourists visiting Bamyan,” he said.
He said Bamyan was connected with the central capital Kabul through two roads passing through central Parwan province, where militants held sway.
Mahmoodi, the High Land hotel manager, said the number of foreign visitors to the province drastically decreased this year, when rooms in most hotels remained unoccupied and only foreign officials attending conferences and meetings sometimes arrived to stay.
He recalled the tourism industry was doing well last year when a large number of foreigners visited the province.
Mohammad Hussain Farid, the owner of Shahi Hotel that has recently been inaugurated, said Afghanistan would get membership of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) in 2015 and after that they expected increase in the number of tourists to the province.
Farid added they were fully prepared for tourists who would visit Bamyan next year. His hotel cost $700,000 and took three years to provide services of international standards.
The 42-room hotel constructed on three acres of land has many facilities including a saloon, a swimming pool and a recreational park. Farid said room charges ranged from $70 to $120 for 24 hours stay and one time food was served against 300 to 800 afghanis based on variety.
Razia, an Afghan-Canadian, said people in European countries were interested in visiting Bamyan for its historic sites specially the Buddha statues and Band-i-Amir dam.
The 25-year-old said more facilities should be provided to foreign tourists and hoped for increase in the number of visitors when Afghanistan’s security situation improved.
Bamyan residents welcome the construction of modern hotels as beneficial and job-creating schemes. Abdullah, a shopkeeper in Bamyan City, said the number of tourists would increase due to these hotels and shopkeepers would benefit from selling their goods to foreign guests.
He said shopkeepers earned more when International Security Assistance Force (ISAF)’ Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) was active in Bamyan, but currently job opportunities had decreased. “But people’s economic situation will get better if foreign tourists keep coming to Bamyan.”
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