Thursday, 17 November 2016
Veteran broadcaster John Simpson advises everyone to go on holiday in Afghanistan
Contrary to the advice of the Foreign Office, which warns against all travel to most of Afghanistan, the veteran broadcaster has endorsed the troubled nation as a top travel destination.
“I’d advise everyone to go on holiday in Afghanistan because it’s beautiful and fantastic,” he is quoted as saying in a new Airbnb report, titled How We Travel.
“When I was filming in Kabul recently, two ragged characters came up to me – to my surprise they were British. One said ‘I’ve got to thank you so much, my wife and I were at a travel show and you told us to go to Afghanistan as it would be perfectly safe – and you were right!’.”
Simpson has filmed many war reports from Afghanistan, where 450 British servicemen and women have died in combat since 2001. However, he has also filed travel articles about his experiences about the country for The Telegraph.
Last year he wrote about his search for precious lapis lazuli jewels in Afghanistan, which, in a previous editorial, he described as his favourite country.
“And my favourite [country], whose name alone makes my heart lift? That can only be Afghanistan,” he wrote.
Though it might sound like stating the obvious, travelling to Afghanistan is inherently dangerous. Nevertheless, tour operators including Hinterland Travel and Wild Frontiers have reported a sharp rise in the number of travellers booking trips to the country since NATO ended its combat operations there in 2014.
The dangers posed by such trips were brought into sharp relief earlier this year when a Taliban attack on tourists in Herat left six people injured.
That doesn’t seem to have troubled Airbnb, however, which has 60-odd homes for rent across the country and actively promotes Afghanistan in its new How We Travel report.
Airbnb surveyed 1,750 British adults for its report and claims 42 per cent of them said discovering a corner of the globe that they didn’t know existed is “what makes a holiday special”.
In the chapter “Discovering new places: ever thought of Afghanistan as a travel destination?”, the report concluded that there has been a shift towards “more adventurous and extended holidays amongst all ages”.
Afghanistan is certainly “adventurous”, but the overwhelming advice is to stay away.
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