Interview: Abdelkader Benmessaoud
How is the national strategy for 2030 being implemented in order to further develop tourism?
ABDELKADER BENMESSAOUD: Algerian authorities have the firm intention to make the tourism sector a driver for economic growth. In 2018 all the conditions are in place for take-off. First, stability and security are strong factors of attractiveness. In addition, within a Mediterranean space that is saturated and running out of steam in terms of the variety of offerings, Algeria remains well preserved and could become an alternative destination.
In December 2018 the National Conference for Tourism, which reviewed the implementation of the national strategy up to 2030, took place. The conference concluded with an exhaustive evaluation of this scheme and has drawn, based on the insufficiencies and strengths observed, the necessary adjustments to reach the objectives traced for 2030.
There has been a sizeable reduction in the deficit of the number of beds found in the country’s various accommodations. From only 60,000 beds in 2008, there are now 120,000 beds and we aim to reach 270,000 beds by 2030. Progress has also been made with regard to the attractiveness of investment.
There are currently around 800 tourism projects under way in various segments, which indicates the effectiveness of these efforts in order to facilitate and incentivise investment. Considerable improvements have been made in customer service and infrastructure, due to the modernisation of specialised training centres and the increased support provided to operators under the national quality plan for tourism.
What has been done to encourage increasing private investment within the sector?
BENMESSAOUD: Investment is the cornerstone of the tourism development programme within the country. That is why, in order to arouse the interest of national and international investors, the government has set up a broad number of incentives and facilitators, such as the access to land and project financing. In addition, project lenders benefit from personalised support from the ministry until the project operations commence.
Algeria is a virgin destination, and as such, all niches and segments of activity are potential drivers, which is why I tell investors that they have plenty of reasons to enter the tourism sector. Key among those reasons is the undersaturated nature of the destination, the high dynamism of internal tourism in the region and Algeria’s geographical position.
To what extent have efforts been made in developing and improving local talent?
BENMESSAOUD: Investment in human resources is even more important than infrastructure, as the competitiveness of the destination depends on it to a large extent. The training development programme is based on: modernising training facilities, both in terms of infrastructure and programme content; realising new, high-quality training institutions; strengthening the partnership between the sectors that are involved in training, such as higher education and vocational training; encouraging the private sector to invest in training; and strengthening international cooperation, in order to benefit from the experience and know-how of countries with more developed tourism sectors.
What initiatives have been taken to strengthen Saharan and thermal tourism?
BENMESSAOUD: Thermal tourism, an alternative health tourism, could interest international clientele, due to its medical and therapeutic properties. The quality of the infrastructure currently being built has been aided by an initiative being undertaken with the concessioning of thermal springs and specific training for this segment. With respect to Saharan tourism, it is for many reasons a major asset for Algeria, especially internationally. Tourism will be developed within a framework of sustainability and respect of local culture.
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