Efforts to build up the tourism industry are tied to a wider strategy of diversifying the economy away from hydrocarbons. Almost two decades of low numbers of domestic and foreign tourists highlighted a number of areas for improvement necessary to achieve the government’s ambitions. It was in pursuit of this strategy that prompted the establishment of the National Tourism Development Plan (Schéma Directeur d’Aménagement Touristique, SDAT) in 2008.

BUILDING TALENT: While the delivery of hospitality infrastructure is progressing slowly, service quality and product diversification are areas Algeria is looking to enhance through better international cooperation and foreign expertise. To this end, a cooperation agreement signed with the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) in May 2013 will allow the country to benefit from the organisation’s experience in the field. The UNWTO will assist Algeria with technical support to develop domestic tourism, build reliable data, contribute towards improving the quality of offerings and hotel classification, promote travel destinations and enhance training of sector personnel. A target of year-end 2014 has been set to realise all of these goals.

Similar objectives were also outlined under DIVECO 1, a cooperation programme agreed with the EU in 2010. The €20m programme – of which the EU is financing €17.5m – is aimed at supporting development in a variety of sectors, notably tourism and agriculture.

As far as tourism is concerned, DIVECO 1 will support the government’s efforts to develop the sector under the SDAT through technical assistance and training. The programme will assist the Ministry of Tourism and Handicrafts to establish a modern and reliable information and data collection system, implement the Quality Tourism Plan Algeria, boost staffing, help with promotion and support institutions developing tourism.

COLLABORATING REGIONALLY: Algeria is also looking to capitalise on experiences in the Mediterranean area and in October 2012, signed a cooperation agreement with Tunisia to allow Algerian experts to travel to the country to draw on its experience in matters of training, promotion, investment and the legal framework.

The programme, which will run until 2015, was to begin with a first group of experts in the first half of 2013 who were to receive training on project development and the promotion of thalassotherapy in the thermal segment. In May 2013, an Italian delegation from Confindustria Assafrica & Mediterraneo visited Algeria to work on a bilateral agreement to train personnel in tourism training. On the agenda were the provision of scholarships and exchanges for sector professionals and the possibility of conducting joint courses between training institutions in both Tunisia and Algeria.

WIDER HORIZONS: In a bid to diversify offerings and enhance visibility both locally and abroad, the National Tourism Agency signed a strategic agreement with French tour-operator Selectour in February 2013. This will enable the former to promote its activities in France. The agreement aims at promoting thermal tourism and mainly targets non-resident Algerians living in France and returning for summer holidays. Thanks to an agreement signed with the national air carrier, Air Algérie, promotional packages comprising flight and accommodation will be made available for tourists departing from Paris, Marseille and Lyon to the thermal resort towns of Hammam Bouhanifia and Hammam Guergour.