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The impact of the Fall of Afghanistan on the World Travel and Tourism industry

Dr. Peter Tarlow

The World Tourism Network is concerned about the current situation in Afghanistan. WTN President Dr. Peter Tarlow is the first global travel association leader giving his evaluation of the fall of Kabul and what the takeover of the Taliban in Afghanistan will do to world tourism.

  • World Tourism Network President Dr. Peter Tarlow is a global expert in the travel and tourism industry and weighs in on having Kabul fall into the hands of the Taliban as a major worry for the global travel and tourism industry and World Tourism Network members in 128 countries.
  • There can be little doubt that historians will debate the follies of both U.S. and European policies vis-à-vis Afghanistan for decades to come. Multiple nations have attempted to subdue Afghanistan, from the Ancient Chinese to the British, from the Russians to the Americans.
  • In all cases, Afghanistan has lived up to its reputation as the “graveyard of empires”.  The recent fall of Kabul is only the latest in Western failures and from a geo-political perspective, this defeat’s impact will be felt for years or decades to come.

It should not be surprising to anyone that the impact of events during the last few days, starting on August 14 might well also impact the world of tourism in ways not yet understood or assimilated by tourism industry officials.

The former president of Afghanistan took as much money as he could before he fled his country, and hours before the Taliban were able to stop him. He and his family are now safe in Abu Dhabi and were welcomed in the United Arab Emirates, a major travel and tourism destination on humanitarian grounds. This now completely destroys the fragile structure of security the western world had constructed in Afghanistan.

Yet despite the fact that there is much we will need to learn about the latest Afghan debacle, it is importance that political experts, public policy officials, and tourism scientists develop an understanding of how a relatively small and “poor” nation has played, and might in the future continue to play, such a major role on the world stage and also in world tourism.

To understand what the Kabul debacle means, we need to examine the country both from a geographic and historical perspective. 

Real estate agents often cite the refrain that there are only three words that determine the value of a piece of property. These words are “location, location, and location”  In other words in the world of real estate location is everything.

To a great extent we can say the same thing about nations.

Much of a nation’s destiny is determined by where it is located in the world.  For example, the American nations, and the United States in particular, have had a huge advantage in that they are separated from Europe by an ocean. 

The United States’ lack of hostile borders has meant that the US has had the luxury of what we might call “splendid isolation”. 

Its natural borders, as distinct from many European nations that live with multiple borders in relatively close proximity,  served not only to protect many of the American nations from military invasions but until the onset of Covid also from medical illnesses.

Although the late twentieth century and the twenty-first century have seen a decline in this geographic advantage due to mass tourism and the current U.S. administration’s lack of desire to protect the US southern border, the principle still holds true.  Canada has had the advantage of having a long peaceful border with the US which has permitted Canada to expend minimal resources on military defense. 

Afghanistan is a completely different situation.  This landlocked nation is in the heart of what historians call the ‘”silk roads”.  

To a great extent these are the lands in the heart of the world, and it is in these lands that much of the world’s economic history has occurred.  Afghanistan not only sits in the middle of the silk roads, but the nation is also incredibly rich in mineral resources.

According to Peter Frankopan citing the US Geological survey reports that Afghanistan is rich in cooper, iron, mercury, and potash.

 The nation also has major reserves on what is known as “rare earths”.  

These “earth” include lithium, beryllium, niobium, and copper.  With the fall of Kabul these rare minerals and valuable substances are now in the Taliban’s hands and these mineral have the potential to make the Taliban incredibly rich.

We should not be surprised if the Taliban do not use this economic windfall as a way to further their stated objective of creating a worldwide Islamic Califate.  

Few Westerners and even fewer tourism officials understand the value of these rare earths and minerals and the fact that China also possesses large quantities of many of these substances. We use these substances in everything from computer production to talcum powder. 

This control over rare and necessary minerals and rare earths means that a Taliban-Chinese alliance becomes a new challenge for western nations and by extension their tourism industries. 

Kabul’s fall also has a political prices. 

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About the author

Dr. Peter E. Tarlow

Dr. Peter E. Tarlow is a world-renowned speaker and expert specializing in the impact of crime and terrorism on the tourism industry, event and tourism risk management, and tourism and economic development. Since 1990, Tarlow has been aiding the tourism community with issues such as travel safety and security, economic development, creative marketing, and creative thought.

As a well-known author in the field of tourism security, Tarlow is a contributing author to multiple books on tourism security, and publishes numerous academic and applied research articles regarding issues of security including articles published in The Futurist, the Journal of Travel Research and Security Management. Tarlow’s wide range of professional and scholarly articles includes articles on subjects such as: “dark tourism”, theories of terrorism, and economic development through tourism, religion and terrorism and cruise tourism. Tarlow also writes and publishes the popular on-line tourism newsletter Tourism Tidbits read by thousands of tourism and travel professionals around the world in its English, Spanish, and Portuguese language editions.

Leave a Comment


  • There is more uninformed political comment in this article than any light on what the title promises.

  • Thought provoking piece & nicely stated, Peter. On the PM leaving with all that cash, on the one hand I agree it’s a total disgrace but on the other perhaps better he has it (and everyone knows he has it & holds him accountable) than the Taliban have it, surely ?

  • All greetings to the conscious and serious tourist expert on this wonderful analytical article to influence the fall of Afghanistan in the hands of the Taliban, which lifts the slogan of Islam on the movement of tourism and international travel.

  • Well, if you cannot keep your house in order and are corrupt then God also will not be help you…..

    There was no intent, no army, no leadership whatsoever. You have to fight your own battle rather than blaming others. For how long can you allow any foreign country to be present in your country.

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