Thursday, 10 November 2016

More and more foreigners choose Pamir Mountains in the northeast of Afghanistan as a new tourist destination

A snow leopard walks on Pamir Mountains
in Sarkand Valley in the Northeast of Afghanistan
More foreign tourists visited the Pamir Mountains in northeastern Badakhshan province this year than last year, local officials said. Provincial tourism manager, Sayed Akram Seddiq Lalzad, told Pajhwok Afghan News the number of foreign tourists visiting Pamir peaks reached 120 during the first six months of the current year as compared to 115 during the entire last year. He said the increasing number of foreign visitors had a positive impact on economic situation of local residents besides increasing the tourism sector’s revenue. “There are 15 transport companies who facilitate foreign visitors to Pamir Mountains on Ashkasham-Wakhan highway, but unfortunately the companies are not registered with the provincial information and culture department,” he said.
Lalzad said a foreign tourist was charged $450 for his transportation to Wakhan region. He said information and culture department officials during a visit to Wakhan had discussed with Ashkasham and Wakhan district chiefs facilitating tourists and reducing the fares from $450 to $350. Meanwhile, on the way to Pamir border from Ashkasham, there are 24 hotels serving tourists established by local people and the Agha Khan Foundation. The hotels have facilities of electricity, shower and food. Each tourist is charged $20 and $25 for three times food.
The hotel owners called a lack of security in Warduj district a major issue tourists faced on their way to Wakhan through Warduj currently under Taliban control. Wali Jan, a hotel owner, said if insecurity was overcome, the number of travelers and tourists to Pamir would increase by ten-fold and people’s and the government’s revenue would increase. According to Lalzad, it took four days for foreign tourists going through Dushanbe, the Tajik capital to cross into Kharaq city of Tajikistan and reach Askhasham port and then reach Pamir through Ashkasham. He said this itself was a big barrier to tourists crossing such a long path. He said if Wardooj district was cleared of insurgents and the highway reopened for traffic, the journey to Pamir would be shortened.
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