Bamiyan was once renowned for the famous Buddha statues, destroyed by the Taliban in 2001. But now this central Afghan province is working hard to attract tourists to its snowy slopes with a ski festival, writes BBC Afghan’s Ramin Anwari.
“Forget about war, forget about terrorism. For now, this is all about having fun,” declares one participant at Bamiyan’s international ski competition held in the mountains of Khoshkak, a 30-minute drive from the capital of Bamiyan province.
Although the ski competition is in its second year, this is the first time that foreigners have taken part. There are about 20 skiers from outside Afghanistan, alongside 10 local competitors who have been newly-trained.
This is part of an ambitious plan to promote adventurous activities in different parts of Afghanistan, a country exhausted by more than three decades of war and destruction.
“Bamiyan certainly has the potential, as it has had throughout its long and rich history, to become a favourite tourist destination,” says Amir Foladi, who works with the Aga Khan Foundation to promote tourism in the country.
“Bamiyan is a good place to visit in spring and summer, but we are trying to make it an enjoyable place for all four seasons, by introducing winter sports such as skiing,” he adds.