To boost its tourism sector, Algeria plans to issue visas on arrival to tourists who would like to travel to the south of the country, according to a document from the country's Ministry of the Interior.
Tourists can now arrange their travel, visas, tickets and hotel reservations through licensed tourism professionals working in Algeria. They must be escorted by police in the southern region though.
Indeed, all citizens of countries requiring a visa for Algerians must obtain a visa to travel to Algeria, which has always been slow and complex, explains the information and advice site Visa-Algeria.
The new flexibility is aimed at reviving the tourism sector, which has been severely affected by the coronavirus pandemic, by cutting red tape and making it easier for visitors to explore the country. Algeria is the largest country in Africa by area. It includes much of the Sahara, including nature reserves and prehistoric sites. It also has 1,200 km of Mediterranean coastline and several historic cities.
The North African country however receives far fewer tourists than its neighbors, such as Morocco and Tunisia, relying instead on its vast oil and gas revenues. The tourism industry contributes only 1.5 percent to the country's gross domestic product, again far less than in the neighboring countries. Tunisia's tourism sector, for example, contributes 14% to the country's GDP.
Algeria's hotel sector also needs massive development, as it has 127,000 beds (2020 data), compared to about 231,000 beds in its much smaller eastern neighbor. Every summer, more than a million Algerians cross the border to spend their vacations in Tunisia, where they have a more comprehensive range of vacation options at a more affordable cost.
In early January, Qatari company Retaj Hotels and Hospitality signed an agreement with Algerian state-owned HTT to raise financing. Retaj will also provide hotel management services for HTT's 73 hotels in the country. Last November, the Arab Tourism Organization honored the Algerian president for his country's role in supporting the tourism industry in the Arab world.