Algeria set to open its doors to tourists with new visa system

On paper, Algeria has it all: postcard-perfect Mediterranean beaches along 1600km of coastline, evocative ruins of the ancient Roman empire, neverending Saharan desert dunes and labyrinthine medinas to rival those of neighbouring Morocco and Tunisia. But the reality is that it’s one of the most challenging countries to visit in the Middle East and North Africa: getting an Algerian visa can be a bureaucratic nightmare that requires patience and possibly clairvoyance.

Roman ruins in a desert.
Trajan's Arch of Timgad, a Roman-Berber city in the Aures Mountains of Algeria © Anton_Ivanov / Shutterstock

But the country, the largest in Africa, seems to be inching closer to making its visa processes easier. The Algerian government announced that a new visa system will be launched ‘in the coming weeks. according to Arabian Business. About three million tourists visited Algeria last year, compared to 13 million visitors to Morocco and a record-breaking nine million visitors to Tunisia. How Algeria plans to differentiate itself from its neighbours and what exactly the new visa process will entail has yet to be seen, but the aim is to reel in five million tourists per year by 2025, mostly from Europe, China, Canada and the US.

A rugged mountain landscape.
Hoggar Mountains in the Sahara Desert, Algeria © Dmitry Pichugin / 500px

In January, the British Backpacker Society named Algeria as the destination in the world with the most potential for adventure travel, saying that ‘Algeria's tourism industry is not only blessed by world-class desert scenery, delightfully hospitable people and spectacular ancient ruins, but it is also blessed by its geographical proximity to keen travellers’.

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