Believe it or Not: Ongoing Conflict Severely Limits Tourism in Afghanistan
Travel agent Sayed Zamanuddin Baha gets calls from people all over the world asking if they can see Tora Bora, the cave complex where Osama bin Laden slipped away from invading U.S. forces in 2001.
“Come! We will help you with your trip,” the president of Afghan Tours says he tells callers. “But no one ever comes.”
Tourism was once a significant business in Afghanistan. In the 1970s, about 120,000 tourists visited the country each year, generating millions of dollars in income for Afghans, says Baha.
But then came the invasion by the former Soviet Union, which spun into bloody civil wars, which were followed by a takeover from the repressive anti-Western clerical movement known as the Taliban. An invasion by U.S-led forces in 2001 to oust the Taliban led to 10 years of warfare in which NATO troops and Afghan soldiers are up against warlords and terrorists.