Afghanistan's Bamiyan recovers as tourist destination, but poor facilities remain an obstacle
BAMIYAN, Afghanistan - Once a popular destination for tourists, Afghanistan's central Bamiyan province has been gradually recovering from the war aftermath to attract sightseers, but the scarcity of accommodations has become a new problem.
"More than 60,000 tourists have visited Bamiyan over the past three months. In recent days the number of visitors is on the rise as up to 600 tourists visit the giant Buddhas' area every day," provincial head of Information and Culture Mawlawi Saifurahman Mohammadi told Xinhua.
Mohammadi said the number of daily visitors to Bamiyan had crossed 1,000 during the three-day Eid al-Adha holiday which ended on Monday.
Bamiyan province, boasting pleasant weather, beautiful landscape, the Band-e-Amir lates, historical sites and above all the giant Buddhas, which was a popular tourist destination nearly five decades ago, has been doing its best to reclaim its title as a tourist destination with returning peace.
However, the mountainous province has yet to accommodate tourists and guests, as there are few hotels and rest houses for the visitors.
Abdul Shah, who recently visited Bamiyan, told Xinhua that many tourists were forced to sleep inside their cars or in the open air due to a shortage of accommodations last week.
The 23-year-old came along with her fiance from Afghanistan's northern Mazar-i-Sharif city lamented that poor facilities could be a problem in developing the tourism industry in the province.
Tourism is booming as up to 500 cars and vehicles bring in sightseers to the pictureque lakes of Band-e-Amir every day and some 40,000 tourists including foreigners had visited the national park Band-e-Amir, said Sayed Ismael, an official of the national park.
"About 40,000 tourists have visited the Band-e-Amir lakes since Eid al-Fitr which began in early May and every day we have thousands of guests here," Ismael told Xinhua.
Another visitor to Band-e-Amir, Sayed Milad, also expressed happiness over his visit to Bamiyan. "I used to swim here and really I have enjoyed the fresh water and fresh air here," he said.
"I really love the green and friendly atmosphere in a peaceful environment while visiting many natural landscapes and historical monuments," said Zahra from Kabul, but adding that the tourism industry will not develop unless the authorities build facilities to accommodate tourists. - XINHUA