Tourists still enchanted by Afghanistan

Despite the threat from the Taliban, adventurous tourists are still enticed by Afghanistan and the scores of attractions that it has to offer.

Even though the Taliban has banned tourism in the nation, especially for those tourists from the NATO nations, some tourists feel it is worth risking the danger to visit the intriguing country. Even though the number of tourists that gain access to the country are few, and dwindling each year, there are a small number who are willing to take the inherent risks. Those that visit the nation for its beauty and experiences, but do not want to take any chances, private bodyguards are available and they can ensure the safety of visitors for $1,500 a day. Such tourists normally travel in armoured cars and stay at the $356-a-night Kabul Serena Hotel.

Despite the dangers, Afghanistan offers exotic views with its rugged, snow-capped mountains in the Hindu Kush and Pamir ranges, as well as ancient Buddhist monuments and stunning Islamic architecture.

A tour operator who works in Afghanistan said, ‘We really tell them, don’t come on your own, come through a friend who works in an NGO in small groups or ones and twos. Security is the priority for us. We don’t want to ruin the reputation of our company. Pure tourists, I would say there are only 100 to 150 a year.’

Tourism in the country was totally wiped out by 2008, and there are few places in the nation that are safe to visit.

The Kabul Serena Hotel, which has five stars, has 177-rooms and runs at 64 per cent occupancy. Terrorists have twice attacked the Serena, and in 2008 Taliban insurgents killed six guests in an attack aimed at the hotel’s health spa.