Bamiyan businesses hit hard by absence of foreign tourists

A hotel in the city of Bamiyan, Afghanistan. July 8, 2023.

The picturesque province of Bamiyan in Afghanistan, known for its historical and cultural attractions, is grappling with a significant decline in foreign tourists since the Taliban swept to power in 2021.

Local residents and business owners in Bamiyan have expressed their concerns over the absence of foreign visitors as this has led to a decline in business opportunities.

Asghar Yousefi, the owner of Gholghola Hotel in Bamiyan, said that fewer foreign guests stay at the hotel these days, compared to previous years.

He said his hotel is often completely empty for days at a time and without foreigners, occupancy is down by about 30%.

The impact is keenly felt by hoteliers like Yousefi, who relies on tourism to sustain their businesses.

“Organizations used to hold a lot of events [at the hotel] in previous years, but this year we barely hold one or two events during a month. However, we used to hold two to three events each week,” Yousefi said.

Wahidullah, a shopkeeper near the famous Bamiyan Buddhas, shared a similar story.

He said that his shop and guesthouse bustled with foreign customers during the republic government, creating a vibrant market atmosphere.

However, over the past two years, he has experienced a loss of business due to the absence of foreign tourists.

“I have not seen any foreign tourists [since the Taliban takeover]. There used to be a lot of tourists during the republic government, but now it has declined, and we haven’t even seen a single foreign tourist in two months,” Wajidullah said.

Meanwhile, many shopkeepers at the Gholghola market also raised their voices over the downturn in business due to a lack of customers.