Attack on tourists rocks fledgling Afghanistan tourism sector

Attack on tourists rocks fledgling Afghanistan tourism sector

KABUL: A recent attack by the Islamic State group that claimed to have killed foreigners visiting a market in northern Afghanistan also dealt a blow to the nation’s emerging tourism industry.

” If there is another assault in the next few weeks or months, Afghanistan’s tourism sector will be over”, said Joe Sheffer, chairman of the Safarat hospitality firm, which specialises in trips to the region.

He spoke to AFP following the shooting by one or more militants on Friday in northern Bamiyan state that resulted in the deaths of three Spanish tourists and six people. Four additional foreigners were hurt in the travel party.

The Islamic State group claimed on Sunday that the class of 13 travelers had been attacked by a Spanish tour company, which is thought to be the first attack on foreigners since the Taliban’s 2021 resurrected.

Since their invasion of Afghanistan in 2021 put an end to their insurrection against foreign-backed government forces, the Taliban authorities have promoted improved security there.


Bamiyan state, with its huge Buddhas dynamited in 2001 under the Taliban’s primary law and blue lakes at Band- electronic Amir, is the country’s leading tourist destination.

Sheffer reported that the business was reviewing its operations in Afghanistan after a number of users had already called their trips now.

” We will decrease party sizes… We are cancelling excursions in rural sites… We are reducing walking in public places”, he told AFP.

Founder of the Untamed Border visit company, James Willcox, said,” Of course, any violent assault on travellers will have a damaging impact on future holiday interest”.

He continued,” We have been working in Afghanistan for over 15 years, and there has never been a time when there has not been anti-government organizations operating in the country.” Unfortunately, it is something that every traveler to Afghanistan should take into account.

In Bangkok, Phakhaporn Thantadakul, manager of the Away Vacation tour agency, wants to cancel a trip set for June/July.

The group’s majority Buddhist counterparts in Thailand wanted to travel to Bamiyan, which was once a significant center of Buddhist influence.

” I’ll call my group first because security comes first,” I promise.” If anything happens, I cannot handle it”, she said.


After the attack, Let’s be Friends Afghanistan ( LBFA ) founder Noor Mohammad Ramazan said,” Questions flooded in from clients concerned about safety.

The tourist industry in Afghanistan enjoys visiting crowded areas and conversing with locals. But regrettably, we will have to avoid that for a while, he said.

However, he said he believes the attack will not entirely end tourism.

Noor, who founded LBFA in 2015, said,” We had a lot of issues before in Afghanistan, but still ardent travelers want to visit.”

Didier Goudant, a French tourist who went skiing for the second year in a row in Bamiyan two months ago, said he would not be interested in coming back.

” We knew the risk of terrorism existed in Afghanistan, but it seemed less in Bamiyan, a tranquil, welcoming region”, the lawyer said.


Although many Western governments have repeatedly warned against visiting Afghanistan, the Taliban government, which is not recognized by any nation in the world, is determined to promote tourism.

Despite lacking in infrastructure, the country’s beauty and legendary hospitality have recently attracted a growing number of adventurers.

Since the Taliban’s ouster of the Western-backed government, visitor numbers have started to slog in, with official figures showing a rise of almost 5,200 last year.

” The problems in Afghanistan is that we have gone from zero tourists to possibly 7, 000, some people say 10, 000 in the year”, said Sheffer, the founder of Safarat tourism agency.

” It’s all been too much, too fast”, he added.

” A lot of tour operators who started out in a very slow, extremely cautions way, using a lot of security techniques… a lot of those precautions have kind of been left behind because we are fighting fires in terms of organising infrastructure, organising transport”.

Sheffer predicts that the Taliban government will follow suit by enforcing stricter regulations for visitors who are already required to register in every province they visit. Seven suspects were detained following the attack.

It will only make it more difficult for foreign visitors to visit the nation, he said.

But, he added, it” will do nothing to prevent a repeat of the attack”.