John Simpson (BBC world affairs) says Afghanistan is a must-go holiday place, even though instead of sea, sun, and sangria we can see a perpetual danger of killing, kidnapping, and other “sights”.
He recommended everybody to visit the country despite the advice by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office against going there by any circumstances.
The 72-year old journalist says he wants everyone to go to Afghanistan on holidays, because the country is beautiful and has lots to show. According to his words, two British people approached him while he was filming in Kabul. One of them thanked Simpson for the recommendation, as everyone else said the place is dangerous. He said he brought his wife here, who was also impressed after a travel show.
During the summer, 8 British people were among the number of western tourists who came “on holiday” and miraculously survived a Taliban ambush in Herat province where 6 people were severely wounded. They were travelling with an Afghan military escort when insurgents opened fire.
Executives at Airbnb also appear to be urging customers to holiday in the country where more than 450 British servicemen and women have lost their lives since 2002. It published a report yesterday that said: “Discovering new places: ever thought of Afghanistan as a travel destination?” Its website has 60 homes for rent, including seven in Kabul and one in Kandahar. Prices start at £12 a night.
The Foreign Office advises against all travel to Kabul and Kandahar as well as other flashpoints. Its website says: “There is a high threat from terrorism and . . . kidnapping throughout the country. Travel by road, particularly outside the capital, Kabul, is extremely dangerous. Seek professional security advice for all travel and consider using armoured vehicles.”
The number of Britons travelling to risky areas is growing, according to Wild Frontiers, the adventure travel company, whose bookings have doubled since 2013. Its website says visitors will encounter “some of the most hospitable, interesting and proud people you are ever likely to meet”. It offers a two-week Afghan explorer trip, covering Kabul, Herat and the lakes of Band-e-Amir, from £5,495. Secret Compass, set up by two former British army officers, offers a 21-day trek through the Wakhan Corridor from £3,599.
Today Mr Simpson sought to clarify his comments. He said: “I was in fact referring to the Wakhan Corridor in the north-east of Afghanistan, where more than one tour company has successfully taken parties for trekking holidays. Much of the rest of the country is indeed too dangerous to visit, as the FCO guidelines say.”