Afghanistan wants you, but you might want to wait

A Tourist Information Center was just erected in Afghanistan’s Bamiyan valley. Customer service lessons are in progress – already making the region friendlier than most airlines – but it may take some time before Afghanistan is ready for regular visits. After all, seven U.S. soldiers lost their lives in the war there yesterday. If you think Afghanistan is ready for western tourists, you are out of your mind. Even if the fighting doesn’t stop you, look out for landmines and hand grenade fishing.

In the Bamiyan region, which is not where the recent fighting involving U.S. soldiers took place, the locals are eager to transform their province into a destination for tourists interested in history. At present, 20 people are receiving customer service training to convey the marks of the past on this region to any guests who may be interested.

And, it might actually be working.

This year, more than 400 foreigners did visit the region (likely not including those in uniform), with airport and hotel reservations up more than 100 percent from 180 for the same period in 2008. If these sites are cleared of landmines by October, as expected, the draw could be even greater. Fortunately, there will be a pizza place ready to serve when the rush comes.