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  #1  
Old 11 Jun 2003
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Algeria visas

As expected new visa regulations for Algeria will severely restrict independent travel off road (much like Libya and parts of Niger and Egypt). More details on Sahara News.

Ch

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  #2  
Old 17 Jun 2003
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So the Algerian Tourist Agencies have got their way. But will there be any tourists now?
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  #3  
Old 17 Jun 2003
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Not only ALGERIAN agencies , but also European agencies : Less free-tourism in desert is more travellers for these agencies ....
Another question : no more news from missing tourists from almost a week ? Are they going to die of starvation and thirst with their kidnappers ?
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  #4  
Old 17 Jun 2003
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" Less free-tourism in desert is more travellers for these agencies ...."

or

Less free-tourism in desert is LESS travellers for these agencies....

because.....

The greater the number of independent travellers in a country, the more likely the paid-up tour agency type tourists will come for a visit. This is especially true in regions where paid-up tour agency type tourists might be afraid of the security situation. Independent travellers work as avalanche poodles in places like the Sahara.

Watch the tourist numbers in somewhere like Djanet over the next few years (even with direct flights from France). The argument will prove itself in the numbers.

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  #5  
Old 17 Jun 2003
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Richard,

The reason why people have travelled to or through Algeria was not to go on a cheap holiday. Some will certainly be put off, like in the case of high car import duties in Egypt. With group travel becoming the only viable alternative (like in Libya), travellers will no longer have the freedom to roam. But group travel means more business both for European and local tour operators.

After all, how much does tourism contribute to a local economy if travellers camp out most of the time and even bring their own supplies with them?

Rgds,
Roman (UK)


[This message has been edited by Roman (edited 17 June 2003).]
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  #6  
Old 17 Jun 2003
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"It should be said that these people entered Algeria by rather unorthodox means", said Mr. Bouteflika who deplored that Western tourists taken as hostages [did not use] agencies specialized to venture into the desert".
<link> http://www.algeria-interface.com/new...9.buavw1cl.xml </link>

Rgds,
Roman (UK)
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  #7  
Old 17 Jun 2003
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"The reason why people have travelled to or through Algeria was not to go on a cheap holiday".

Agreed - it is quite an expensive holiday and the costs of a guide probably don't make that much difference in percentage terms - given the costs of preparing a vehicle, ferry tickets and so on. So what was I saying?

The question I was thinking about was a somewhat different:
How does a country set up a tourist industry? The answer, I think, is not by restricting the tourist industry.

As we know, Algeria was following a great tourist recovery and some say that last season was close to the peak in the late 1980s. This was the reason that the hostage takers struck - because it was relatively easy to guarantee 40 or so people at a few bottle necks over a few days - guides or no guides.

But how did this restart in toursim happen? By a trickle of independent travellers in 1999. Followed by more in 2000. Along with videos and web sites like this. All these people spread the word. They went home, showed their slides, set up web pages and told everyone that the Sahara is the greatest place on earth and Algeria is the greatest place in the Sahara. And then come the people who take tours, fly in, ride camels, eat couscous, marry locals and so on. So basically tourism is a pyramid - independent travellers at the bottom and the real money above them.

But, and this is the important part, if you axe the bottom of the pyramid - the independent tourists - the rest don't follow as easily.

Don't get me wrong, I've taken tours with agencies in Tam and Djanet and have stayed with the local agencies in several parts of Algeria. These have all added to my trips. But I've also enjoyed independent travel. I won't be keen to go back if you are met at the border and hussled around at someone else's pace. We can do that in Libya. So I, for one, think Algeria has made a mistake. Do we require Algerians to have a guide if they want to drive from London to Berlin? That trip, in my mind, requires some serious map work!

So this isn't an anti-tourist agency comment, alhtough Roman and I probably do have different opinions when it comes to guides - the ardent forum readers might have noticed. My comment is more serious than that - it goes along the lines of 'Algeria - what have you just done to your tourist industry!'.

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Old 17 Jun 2003
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Quote:
Originally posted by Richard Washington:

My comment is more serious than that - it goes along the lines of 'Algeria - what have you just done to your tourist industry!'.

Richard,

You make valid points, of course, about how some destinations have succeeded to attract tourism or re-establish themselves in the global travel market. What you said is true, but I don’t think it will harm in any significant way Algeria’s tourism potential.

The “direct marketing” method of reviving tourism you described has limited effect and may attract only special interest tourism which is a small niche market anyway. On the other hand, whatever has filtered through to the Western media about the kidnappings has already caused greater and more lasting damage than the restrictions on independent travel.

It is worthwhile to notice that for decades, perhaps with the exception of France, Algeria has not been perceived as a holiday destination. Here in the UK, a mention of your intended trip to Algeria will be met with a dumb stare, raised eyebrows or an expression of horror. As a result, there’s not much tourism to suffer from visa restrictions. The north is still considered a no-go area, hence the city break sector (which normally contributes the greatest amount of cash to local economies) will not be affected. Even a few thousand less tourists traveling alone in the Sahara will not make such a big impact - I explained that in the post above. Of course, one has a good reason to argue that a guided tour in the desert is not in any way safer if the terrorists are bent on wrecking havoc, but for the Algerians letting people loose all over the place and seeing them kidnapped or killed is a much worse alternative and would discourage more visitors for years to come.

At the end of the day, those who are undaunted by the difficulties and dangers will go there anyway. Those who became scared have already given up on Algeria - restrictions or no restrictions.

Rgds,
Roman (UK)

[This message has been edited by Roman (edited 17 June 2003).]

[This message has been edited by Roman (edited 17 June 2003).]
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  #9  
Old 22 Jun 2003
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Leaving all the conjectural bullshit beside, I still want to use the hoggar route into niger this summer: if it is at all possible.

Provided that you can actually get a visa for Algeria, and provided that you succeed in getting into the country overland from Tunisia, just how much of a hassle is an independent traveller without his own vehicle going to get from the police?

Following the kidnapping stories, it still seems that the threat from kidnapping must be pretty small, even if this traveller is British. He would have to stay on the main routes anyway (that is where the public transport will be).

Is anyone else doing this at the moment?


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  #10  
Old 23 Jun 2003
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Quote:
Originally posted by anonimo:

Is anyone else doing this at the moment?

No, but we'd like to hear from you when you get there ....

Rgds,
Roman (UK)
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  #11  
Old 23 Jun 2003
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'it still seems that the threat from kidnapping must be pretty small, even if this traveller is British. He would have to stay on the main routes anyway'

And now for some more conjecture......
Some say the Arak attack just north of Tam last year (involving a Swiss 4x4 and a dozen or so locals) was done by the same guys who are presently holding the hostages. The attack took place on the sealed road.
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  #12  
Old 23 Jun 2003
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"Do we require Algerians to have a guide if they want to drive from London to Berlin?"

No, but then they're exceptionally unlikely to be kidnapped and held for months (or, hopefully not, years) in that region. Algeria would be condemned if they did nothing - disappointing though that is for those of us who relish the independance now (temporarily?!) lost.

With regard to the Arak attack, we drove down the same road just 10 days after it (a little pensively!), and learned afterwards that they had caught those responsible - although I can't be sure how true that is.

"Leaving all the conjectural bullshit beside, I still want to use the hoggar route into niger this summer: if it is at all possible."

- strange way to start an entirely conjectural question...

Sam.
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  #13  
Old 23 Jun 2003
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'....No, but then they're exceptionally unlikely to be kidnapped and held for months (or, hopefully not, years) in that region. Algeria would be condemned if they did nothing - disappointing though that is for those of us who relish the independance now (temporarily?!) lost.'

OK, this is the bit I don't understand. How does a local guide help to prevent a kidnapping by GSPC who planned their moves a year in advance? If locals were bullet proof then 150 000 Algerians wouldn't have been killed since the 1992 elections.

'and learned afterwards that they had caught those responsible - although I can't be sure how true that is.'

Misinformation and information have been equal partners in the Algerian hostage affair and, like Sam has said, one never knows the truth. What I heard, last week, was that those responsible for the Arak Attack were caught, but were released soon afterwards. But who knows. Hit and miss travel in the meantime!
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  #14  
Old 23 Jun 2003
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'How does a local guide help to prevent a kidnapping by GSPC who planned their moves a year in advance? '

I guess there are several possibilities:
- They know more then the average tourist about what's going on, and where it is happening
- Because it is known when they go where, and when they should be back, it will be easier to trace trace and find people.
- Maybe just because people know each other

And off course, the occasional omelet frites most independent tourists eat is a meager contribution to the countries income.
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Old 24 Jun 2003
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"- They know more then the average tourist about what's going on, and where it is happening
- Because it is known when they go where, and when they should be back, it will be easier to trace trace and find people.
- Maybe just because people know each other"

I agree with this opinion . I think that a local guide is not an absolute guarantee , but it's more safe against kidnapping or robbering . And I hope that the new restrictions will be less strong than the same in Lybia ( a guide at the border post , and ( often ) a policeman too ).
Is anybody there in Algeria NOW to tell us how is the mood on Sahara roads and at the border posts ?
It's summer but I know that some guys are not afraid of heat and sun !
AND WHAT NEWS ABOUT THE 15 TOURISTS KIDNAPPED ?????????

RORO.

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