Effort Underway to Revive Tourism in Afghanistan

(NECN: Anya Huneke) - Afghanistan may not be the first place that comes to mind when thinking about a vacation, but the Bamiyan Province used to attract many tourists-- with its lakes and mountains. There's currently an effort to revive the industry by promoting back country skiing on the region's towering mountains, and one Vermont man is getting involved.

During the school year Jonathan Hoffman can be found in the kitchen of Vermont's center for Technology Essex. Teaching teens skills they'll need to become chefs. But in the Summer- he's half a world away.

Six years ago, he founded "Direct Aid International", a non-profit organization whose mission is to bring normalcy to crisis situations. One area he's focusing on: Bamiyan Province in Afghanistan, a poor but beautiful region that once boasted a strong summer tourism industry.

The mountains in the region are on the radar of many die-hard skiers.

But few venture to that region, the country's ongoing conflict a strong deterrent. Hoffman says Bamiyan is in fact the safest part of Afghanistan.

The immediate goal is relatively small: to collect 25 sets of skis, boots, bindings, and skis. They'll be used to equip Afghans, who will be trained as ski guides.

Hoffman sees Bamiyan becoming a destination for ski-enthusiasts, like Tom Hite, who hit the slopes as the first snowflakes of the season fell Friday.

For now, his main goal is to gather the equipment and get it to Afghanistan by Thanksgiving, with big dreams of what it could lead to down the road.

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