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Tajikistan Has No Doubt Murder of Tourists Will Not Affect Travel Industry

Rarely covered in world news Tajikistan grabbed the headlines at the end of July, which can badly affect its emerging tourism.

Tajikistan attracts tourists by natural landscapes. Khatlon region. Photo: Amonzhon Mukhiddinov
After the murder of four cyclists from Western countries, the authorities of Tajikistan and representatives of travel companies have reported in local media that this negative event has not affected the flow of foreign citizens and tourists to the country.

On July 29, two citizens of the United States, one citizen of the Netherlands and one citizen of Switzerland were killed in Khatlon region, south of Tajikistan, when they were cycling towards Dushanbe. Three more cyclists were hospitalised.

The law enforcement bodies of Tajikistan have detained three persons and killed five during a special operation. The information about the involvement of the suspects in the ISIS terrorist group has alerted even more the shocked audience both within and beyond the country.

It’s quite obvious that objective conclusions of the influence of this event on tourism can be reached within a year. Tourists who have already come or are going to come are unlikely to change their plans due to purchased tickets, tours and planned routes.

Murat Sokrat has recently arrived from Germany to see the high mountains of Pamir in the east of Tajikistan. He said the news about the killing of tourists has not changed his opinion about the country.

“[My relatives] asked me how I live here and whether I am OK. They asked me to get back soon. I assured them it’s quiet and well here and that I will not get back until I see the mountains of Pamir.”
Abakhon Sultonazarov, who was in Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region in the first half of August (GBAR), said he saw many tourists in this part of the country.

“I thought there have been much more tourists now. They were cycling, riding motorcycles, driving cars or just walking. They didn’t seem to be afraid of anything,” he said.

First to Second Level Downgrade

The July tragedy has not yet affected the flow of other tourists, Tajik authorities claim. Photo: Khulkar Yusupov
Tajikistan is often rated high by foreign travel websites due to its mountainous landscapes, relatively unspoiled nature, and authentic oriental culture.

However, after a series of publications in foreign media, on various travel websites, users have become concerned whether Tajikistan is a safe place for tourism.

The U.S. Department of State on its website gives recommendations to its citizens regarding the safety in relevant countries and has downgraded Tajikistan one level with the “exercise increase caution”. There are four levels of caution; earlier Tajikistan had been given level one “exercise normal precautions”.

After the end of the civil war (1992-1997), in the early 2000s, the flow of foreign citizens to Tajikistan, including tourists, has been rising steadily.

The interest of tourists to the nature of Tajikistan is growing. Photo: Lola Olimova
Despite the unpromoted image of the republic abroad, the underdeveloped infrastructure, and borders with Afghanistan, the country has seen the growing number of wild nature and trekking lovers every year.

According to the Tajik Tourism Development Committee, in the first six months this year the country was visited by more than 950 thousand foreign citizens, which is more than three times the previous year.

The extent of influence of the tragedy with foreign tourists in the south of the country on the flow of foreign citizens to the republic can be estimated next year.

This publication was prepared as part of the Giving Voice, Driving Change – from the Borderland to the Steppes Project implemented with the financial support of the Norway Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect the position of the editorial team or a donor.

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