More than 200,000 tourists visit Bamyan this year

BAMYAN: The number of local and foreign tourists visiting historic sites and natural beauty in central Bamyan province has increased as so far more than 200,000 people toured the province this solar year.

Acting information and culture director for Bamyan, Sayed Ahmad Hussain Ahmadpor, told Pajhwok Afghan News the number of domestic and foreign visitors to Bamyan had doubled compared to last year.

He said more than 5,000 tickets had been sold and more than 200,000 people visited Bamyan so far this year and its natural landscapes in the mid of current year.

Ghulam Mohammad, who was visiting Band-i-Amir Dam with his family, told Pajhwok: “We came here to visit Band-i-Amir and enjoy, we enjoyed a lot during our four-day stay here.”

He said the rent of tents and rooms had increased to 2,000 afghanis and 3,000 afghanis respectively due to the high number of visitors.

“The high rates of services may discourage people in future not to visit Bamyan”, he added.

Mohammad Ibrahim, an official at the Wildlife and Heritage Sites department, said around 300 to 350 cars of tourists daily arrived in the province coming from Kabul, Kandahar, Ghazni, Daikundi, Herat, Ghor, Samangan, Balkh and Baghlan.

“People stay in Band-i-Amir Dam for one day or a week and most of them bring families for recreation, nearly 400 foreigners visited this dam this year compared to 200 in the entire last year,” he said.

The increasing number of tourists coming Bamyan would help improve local people’s economic situation, he said, adding local people used to sell different types of food in restaurants,dairy products and offered rooms against rent and transportation facilities from Bamyan to Band-i-Amir Dam.

Touristic services would be increased at the national park in future and those visiting the dam would enjoy more.

However, local residents in Band-i-Amir Dam area said that the rent of tents and rooms was increased during schools summer recess. In other days, the rent of a tent does not go beyond 500 afghanis and of room beyond 1,000 afghanis.

Ali Hussain, a resident of the area, who rented out his house to visitors, said the rent this year was high due to high number of domestic and foreign visitors.

He said the number of rooms would be increased for next year that would help reduce rents. “During winter, a room is given on rent for less than 100 afghanis due to lack of tourists,” he said.

Local officials say 1.1 million afghanis is earned in revenue by the government annually from tourists visiting the Band-i-Amir dam.

Abdul Ahad Mubariz, administrative chief for Yakawlang district, said people with disabilities had been contracted to collect the revenue. “Each corolla car entering the dam is charged 50 afghanis and Townace and Flying Coach 100 afghanis.”

Road accidents

Provincial information and culture acting director said: “Some visitors use trucks to bring passengers or families here, but we suggest that the passengers should use small vehicles to prevent any risks.”

He said vehicles increased in summer, particularly during school recess, on the Kabul-Bamyan highway and drivers should avoid high speed and overtaking.

Bamyan contains eight historic sites which are registered with UNESCO. They include two Buddha statues, Dara-i-Kakrak, Qul Akram, Shahr-i-Zahak Shahr-i-Ghulghula, Qul Ghamai residential caves and other caves near the Buddha.

Besides that, Band-i-Amir contains seven small natural dams and lakes. In Band-i-Amir, 10 hotels, many tents and rental houses are available for visitors.

Band-i-Amir Dam was called as the first national park by the president in 2007. This park is a major recreation area in Afghanistan located some 70 kilometers west of Bamyan capital. -Pajhwok

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