Algeria Unveils New Visa Program, Inviting Adventurers To Explore The Enigmatic Sahara

The country aims to position itself as a quality tourist destination.

by Mallika Khurana
Algeria Unveils New Visa Program, Inviting Adventurers To Explore The Enigmatic Sahara

Algeria, often overlooked in favour of its more touristic neighbours, is gradually opening its doors to global travellers with a new visa program aimed at showcasing its awe-inspiring Sahara desert. While countries like Egypt, Tunisia, and Morocco have long been tourist hotspots, Africa’s largest nation has historically prioritised other sectors over tourism. However, a recent initiative introduced in January 2023 has begun to change that narrative, offering adventurous travellers a chance to explore Algeria’s vast and captivating landscapes.

Algeria’s Visa Program Sparks Surge In Desert Exploration

algeria visa
Photo Credits: Canva

Tourism Minister Mokhtar Didouche described the program as tailored for those seeking to immerse themselves in nature’s grandeur, as per the CNBC TV 18 reports. He particularly highlighted the allure of the Sahara’s boundless beauty. Despite being a niche pursuit, with only 10,000 visas issued to visit the Sahara in the year leading up to February 2024, Algeria’s overall tourism figures have seen a notable increase, reaching 3.3 million visitors within the same period.

The visa process, which previously required lengthy consulate procedures, now takes significantly less time, typically a week to 10 days, making it more accessible to eager travellers. However, trips must be arranged through approved Algerian travel agencies, often involving security escorts, especially for desert excursions. These tours, organised by local operators, offer a week-long adventure featuring offroad vehicle expeditions and no-frills camping experiences, typically costing around €800 (₹72,100.93 approx.) per person. 

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A Gateway To Adventure

visa program
Photo Credits: Canva

Algeria’s slow embrace of tourism follows in the footsteps of Saudi Arabia, which opened its doors to tourists in 2019, leaving Algeria as one of the few remaining frontiers for adventure travel in the region.  Beyond the Sahara, Algeria boasts a wealth of attractions in the north, including UNESCO World Heritage sites and a picturesque coastline stretching over 1,200 kilometres.

Despite these offerings, Algeria faces challenges in accommodating a potential surge in tourism. As per the CNBC TV 18 reports, the country may struggle to meet growing demand with only 1,600 hotels offering international-standard services and a bed capacity of 150,000 to 160,000. To address this, the government is making land available for tourism sector investment, aiming to expand infrastructure and accommodate a larger influx of visitors.

Ultimately, Algeria seeks to elevate its profile as a quality tourist destination, showcasing its rich history, cultural heritage, and natural wonders to the world. 

Cover Image Courtesy: Canva