By: Lailuma Noori
‘World Tourism Day’ is commemorated each year on 27 September, with celebrations led by UNWTO. Its purpose is to foster awareness among the global community of tourism’s social, cultural, political and economic values and the contribution the sector can make in reaching the Sustainable Development Goals.
Based on information, Afghanistan currently has 140 touristic sites and hundreds of historic monuments. The country has also two historic heritages including Minaret of Jam and Buddha which have been registered in World Heritages.
Moreover, Afghanistan has a range of mountains such as Pamir, Hindu Kush, Baba, Feroz Koh, Seya Koh and other beautiful mountains, fountains and natural frozen sites, which have added to the beauty of the nature.
Also, there are other historic sites in various cities of the country such as destructed Buddha statues, Zuhak city, Ghulghula city and Chelsetoon in Bamyan, Herat Great Mosque, Herat historic palace, minarets of Herat and Khwaja Abdullah Ansari mausoleum in Herat, Balahesar, Sultan Mahmoud Mausoleum, Sanayee Mausoleum and others.
Today, despite decades of war, Kabul remains a fascinating city that embraces both the old and the new. With the presence of the international community and the ongoing redevelopment projects, Kabul has been given a touch of modern architecture that gives the city hope of a peaceful and prosperous future.
Afghanistan has a history of more than six thousand years, with many historical sights and attractions, among these are the more than two thousand years old famous Buddha Statues, the tomb of Hazrat-e Ali (the son in law of Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) and the fourth caliph of Islam) in Mazar-e Sharif, the beautiful city of Balkh (also known as the mother of all cities) and the lakes of Band-e Amir in Bamyan province.
Afghanistan has also been of great strategic importance for invading armies, from Genghis Khan to Alexander the Great. All these armies have left astonishing trails behind, trails that have been forgotten due to decades of war but are yet to be discovered. The Government is working to rebuild the war torn infrastructure of Afghanistan, a major project to develop transport links and a nationwide telecommunication link between Kabul and the other provinces has been established.
Furthermore, to assist the Tourism Industry of Afghanistan, the Government strongly encourages and offers its full support to the private sector to invest into the Tourism Industry. With ever increasing global tourism, the Afghan Tourism Industry has tremendous potential to become profitable. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan is willing to support any attempt that will further develop the tourism industry of Afghanistan.
Perhaps, it is worth mentioning that despite of positive facilities that have been provided for expansion of tourism in the country, there are still lots of obstacles and challenges such as increasing insecurities in various parts of the country and lack of necessary facilities for tourists.
President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani in his remarks regarding tourism industry in the country has said Afghanistan will host 2 – 5 million tourists every year if the continued war and violence end in the country. The country’s President says it is necessary that Afghanistan is introduced by the tourism as anti-terrorism country by the tourism industry to the world.
Bamyan is in top of provinces hosting most foreign and domestic tourisms every year. Balkh, Herat and Ghor are among provinces that have historic monuments and are known for their cultural heritages too.