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Editorial: Attack on tourists

Five foreign nationals visiting cultural and historical sites in Afghanistan were injured along with their Afghan driver when their vehicle hit a roadside bomb in the relatively calm province of Herat.

The tourists who were reportedly British, American and a German citizen were on their way to the tourist attracting province of Bamyan on Thursday. Taliban militants have claimed responsibility for the attack, saying the incident took place in the Chesht-e-Sharif district.

The news comes days after a group of kayakers from Britain and Austria entered Afghanistan for kayaking in the Panjshir River. The kayakers described security situation suitable for the tourists, unlike they had “heard in the media” that it is dangerous for foreigners to go to Afghanistan.

Afghanistan is well known for its ancient and historical sites and was one of the best choices for the foreign tourists in the past. Being home to the two giant Buddha statues carved in the mountainsides of the central province of Bamyan besides hundreds of other tourist sites, the country can make a big part of its incomes through the tourism industry.

Bamyan is also a good place for skiing with snow-covered mountains. Few foreigners travel there in the winter for skiing and there has been even an Afghan ski team taught by the foreign experts.

Unfortunately, the main obstacle for the industry is the security problem, which prevents foreigners and even Afghans of touring in different places. The Western embassies in Kabul typically warn their citizens against non-essential travel to the country.

Although the tourist sites are safe, but the ways leading to the sites are sometimes insecure, not usually.

The government that is responsible to introduce the country to the world citizens has so far paid less attention to the tourism. The ministry of culture is not doing enough to show a different image to the world.

The security forces are able to ensure safety for the tourists anywhere they plan to visit. So, the culture ministry with the cooperation of the security organs can help the tourists.

The foreign tourists are sometimes careless too. They travel to different areas without informing police, which results unpleasant incidents. They are requested to share their travel plans with the police and ask for their help.

The government is obviously keen to promote tourism and increase job opportunities for the tour guides, transportation, accommodation, etc. through this popular and money-making industry.

If the tourism is developed, we will witness a big positive change in many sectors including the security, because when people know about the earning through tourism, a lot of them will abandon violence, poppy cultivation and other activities that defame Afghanistan.

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