Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Tuesday, December 12th, 2017

“Sustainable Tourism – A Tool for Development”

Human beings have always liked to enjoy nature and its beauty. They have shown their interest in their surroundings and have always strived to discover natural phenomena. The scenic environment has attracted them and made them show their love for it in different ways. They have written essays, stories and poems and songs in this regard. They have not stayed to their own surroundings and they have tried to go to different parts of the world and enjoy the beauties of nature. Though, they have faced difficulties and hardships, they have not given up their thirst for finding out the miracles of this bewitching world and have kept on being astonished by it.
Today, when the world has been modernized and divided in different states, boundaries and borders have been created, yet human beings have not given up touring different places in different countries. This has now taken a formal form and called as tourism. Tourism is now a famous leisure and a developing business as well. Millions of people around the world tour various places and thus spend a large amount of money every year; while the countries that host those tourists earn millions of dollars as well. According to current statistics by UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), International tourist arrivals worldwide have grown from 25 million in 1950 to nearly 1.2 billion in 2015. Similarly, international tourism revenues earned by destinations around the world have grown from 2 billion US dollars in 1950 to 1260 trillion in 2015. The sector represents an estimated 10% of the world’s GDP and 1 in 10 jobs globally. A part from financial and economic benefits, tourism can also provide opportunities to share social and cultural values and at the same time assist people in learning traditional and historical lessons.
Keeping these advantages of tourism in consideration, United Nations has selected September 27th to be celebrated as World Tourism Day. The purpose of the day is to promote tourism and preserve the tourist sites from destruction. This year the theme of the day was “Sustainable Tourism – A Tool for Development”. The celebration of this World Day focused on how sustainable tourism can contribute to development and it was held in Doha (Qatar). Sustainable tourism is defined as tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities. It should thus make optimal use of environmental resources, respect host communities and ensure viable, long-term economic operations so that benefits are equitably distributed among all stakeholders.
It also remain a reality that for a country economic stability has an important role in the development and improvement of tourism. It, in fact, helps both in providing better opportunities to host tourists and at the same time provide better opportunities to produce tourists who would have the capacity to tour the places of their choice. It is really difficult to find any country suffering from economic instability spending money for the promotion and development of tourism as they have many other priorities. There are several countries in the world that have places worth visiting and can attract many tourists, but as the governments of such countries are not able to spare budget for development of tourism, they are not able to cash the opportunity.   
In a similar fashion, the political stability and security also play a dominant role in supporting tourism. The countries that suffer from insecurity are not able to attract tourists as tourists would rarely want to risk their lives for the sake of tourism. Afghanistan is also a similar type of country that has been suffering from the evil of insecurity; therefore, tourism has not been able to flourish much.
However, the country possesses the potential to become an important tourists’ site. According to information by the Ministry of Information and Culture (MoIC), despite considerable drop in the number of foreign tourists to Afghanistan, due to insecurity, the sector is able to generate an annual income of almost one billion Afghanis. Foreign tourists can travel to only 12 provinces of the country that have over 200 historical sites. Whereas the relevant ministry issues around 100,000 tourism visas for foreign tourists every year.
Afghanistan can flourish its tourism and this sector can be an important contributor in its economy as the country is striving to stand on its own. But, for that to happen it is really important that the relevant authorities must make honest efforts. The Afghan government needs to give proper attention to this sector and must not neglect it just because of the excuse of insecurity. Afghanistan can develop when it pays attention to different sectors simultaneously. Considering one sector as the panacea to all is not the solution. Developing all the institutions is important and so is the institution of tourism.