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Breakfast Thursday, 22 August, 2002, 05:12 GMT 06:12 UK
Wish you were here?
Tourism in Afghanistan
A popular destination for travellers in the 60s and 70s
It may not be your first choice as a holiday destination, and in recent months has been mostly visited by American and UK troops.

But as unlikely as it sounds, Afghanistan is set to become the latest place for a holiday abroad.

A British company is offering travellers the chance to visit a country once famed for its cultural heritage, the first 'holidaymakers' will leave for the spectacular Hindu Kush mountains later in the month.

  • Breakfast spoke to the trip's organiser Phil Haines and travel writer Simon Calder


    When you travel anywhere, you manage your risks. We're going to arrive in Kabul, be met and stay there, we'll be visiting some Islamic sites.

    We've organised tours to Iraq that have been successful. The group of people coming with us are all experienced travellers and have a passion for the middle east, we're going to see as much as we can as safely as we can.

    There are risks involved travelling anywhere

    Phil Haines

  • If you're thinking of travelling to a dangerous country, check with the Foreign Office

    Click here for the Foreign Office Travel Service

    During the 60s and 70s, Afghanistan was a popular destination for tourists travelling on their way to India.

    But much of the country is still suffering from the effects of the war - there are still no direct flights to Afghanistan and in February the interim Afghan tourism minister was beaten to death at Kabul airport.


    To visit Afghanistan now is just war zone voyeurism. It's unfair to the people and they're not ready for tourism

    Simon Calder, Travel editor, The Independent Newspaper

    Phil Haines is heading off on the first tour to Afghanistan since the conflict.

    He's the founder of the company organising the tour, Live Travel, and himself a compulsive traveller.

    It's a one-off non-profit tour, but if a success commercial tours will follow. He started his company to cater for people who wanted to go to unusual destinations.

    Dangers

    However, the advice from the Foreign Office has not changed and Afghanistan is still on its list of countries that it says are not safe to travel to.

    And not everyone thinks it's a good idea to travel there. Simon Calder, travel editor for the Independent newspaper says it's too soon, and package tours like this attract the wrong sort of people:

    Tourism in Afghanistan
    The Bamiyan Buddhas were destroyed in 2001
    "To visit Afghanistan now is just war zone voyeurism. It's unfair to the Afghans, who aren't ready for tourism, and unfair to the tourists, who are at genuine risk."

    Recovery

    Afghanistan was once famed for its rich culture and history, including the Bamiyan Buddhas destroyed by the Taleban in 2001; but if the country is to get back on its feet after years of war and suffering, then tourism could provide the key to helping economic recovery.

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    See also:

    05 Mar 01 | Media reports
    13 Nov 01 | South Asia
    25 Jan 02 | South Asia
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