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Number of tourists visiting Bamyan plunges

Number of tourists visiting Bamyan plunges

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Jul 14, 2019 - 19:04

BAMYAN (Pajhwok): Local officials say the number of tourists visiting central Bamyan province declined by a half during the first four months of the ongoing 1398 solar yearinfo-icon compared to the same period last year.

Bamyan is home to eight historic sites which are registered with UNESCO. They include two Buddha statues, Dara-i-Kakrak, Qul Akram, Shahr-i-Zahak Shahr-i-Ghulghula, Qul Ghamai residential caves and other caves near the Buddhas.

Besides that, Band-i-Amir contains seven small natural dams and lakes. In Band-i-Amir, 10 hotels, many tents and rental houses are available for visitors.

Band-i-Amir Dam was declared the first national park by the president in 2007. The park is a major tourist destination Afghanistan located some 70 kilometers west of Bamyan capital.

A large number of foreign and domestic tourists visit these sites every year.

Abdul Hamid Jalia, in charge of protection and maintenance of historical sites of Bamyan, told Pajhwok Afghan News that around 5,000 tourists visited Bamyan during the first quarter of the ongoing solar year compared to 10,000 tourists who visited the province during the same period last year.

He said the tourists received tickets for visiting historic sites such as Shahr-i-Ghulghula, Bamyan Buddha and caves of Kakrag Buddha.

The revenue collected from visitors during the first four months of last year was 2.6 million afghanis while revenue collected during the same period this year was yet to be calculated, he said.

However, he said 500 of tourists last year visited natural and historic areas of the province without getting tickets.

High flight fares, insecurity in the country and economic problems are main factors behind the plunge in arrivals, he added.

Jumma Khan Mahdavi, general manager of tourists at the information and culture department of Bamyan, said that insecurity in the country, particularly on routes to the province, the fall of Dara-i-Maidan area to the Talibaninfo-icon were other reasons that discouraged tourists.

He said some people with links with Taliban had set up checkpoints in Dara-i-Maidan area for searching people and checking their cell phones and computers, an issue he said had created fear among passengers.

In the past, a flight ticket from Kabulinfo-icon to Bamyan would cost 6,000 afghanis but now it cost 8,000 afghanis, he said.

Restaurant and hotel owners in Bamyan also complained that a limited number of tourists were arriving in the province compared to the past, saying their business was collapsing.

Haji Tahir, owner of Sakhi Number Yak Hotel near Bamayn Buddha, said, “Last year and the years before, we would sell 150 kilograms of kabab a day during this period of year, but now we can hardly sell 30 kilograms of kabab.”

“People’s economy has weakened and they do not travel, people’s situation is getting worse with each passing day,” he added.

A number of people who traveled to Bamyan also complained about expensive flight tickets and insecurity on routes leading to Bamyan.

Ahmadullah Firozi, who traveled from Kabul to Bamyan, said he and five of his friends travelled by road to the province. He said Taliban militants were stopping passenger cars and were searching them at many points.

“It was my first time to travel to Bamyan and face Taliban, we were terrified, then we decided not to travel again to Bamyan by land,” he said.

Khairullah, a resident of Kabul, said that he was longing to visit Bamyan but could not travel there through land due to security problems and by air due to high fare.

mds/ma

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