Post-war Afghanistan visitor numbers | Tourism News


Her soldier husband visited Afghanistan with fighters instead, but US traveler Oscar Wells has another goal – a tour promoted by the Taliban’s tourism sector.

Admiring the 15th-century Blue Mosque north of Mazar-i-Sharif, the 65-year-old Wells is among a small but growing group of Afghan immigrants since the end of the war.

Years of conflict have made tourism scarce in Afghanistan, and while much of the violence has ended, visitors still face extreme poverty, a culturally disorganized environment and limited hospitality facilities.

It rests under the leadership of Taliban officials, and without diplomatic support, as most diplomats were displaced following the fall of the Western-backed government in 2021.

They must register with the authorities upon arrival in each region, follow strict dress codes and submit to searches at checkpoints.

Attacks by ISIL (ISIS) may also pose a threat to the country.

The number of visitors to Afghanistan is set to increase 120 percent annually in 2023, to about 5,200, according to government figures.

The Taliban government is not officially recognized by any country, in part because of its ban on women, but it has welcomed tourism.

“The enemies of Afghanistan are not showing the country clearly,” said Minister of Information and Culture Khairullah Khairkhwa.

“But if these people come to see what it is like,” he added, “they will share a good picture of it.”

Wells, traveling with the tour company Untamed Borders, which also offers tours to Syria and Somalia, describes his trip as a way to connect with the people of Afghanistan.

He describes “feeling guilty about leaving” the United States military.

“I saw that we came out badly, it led to trouble and tragedy,” he said. “It’s good to help these people and keep the relationship.”

For solo traveler Stefanie Meier, a 53-year-old US citizen who spent a month traveling from Kabul to Kandahar via Bamiyan and Herat in the west, it was “painful”.

“I have been able to meet people I never thought I would meet, who told me about their lives,” she said, adding that she does not face any problems as a single woman.

He was met with “disbelief that people should live this way”, he added. “Poverty, there is no job, women cannot go to school, they have no future.”



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