(MENAFN- The Peninsula) AFP
Algiers: Algeria will allow foreign tourists heading to its vast desert south to obtain visas on arrival, part of efforts to 'promote tourism in the Sahara', the interior ministry announced on Wednesday.
In a statement, it said that 'foreigners heading to the south of the country' who have tours booked with licenced local companies could obtain visas 'on arrival at airports and land borders, instead of going through normal visa procedures'.
Algeria, Africa's biggest country by surface area, comprises a major chunk of the Sahara including nature reserves and prehistoric sites.
It also boasts 1,200 kilometres (745 miles) of Mediterranean coastline and several historical cities.
But the North African country hosts far fewer tourists than its neighbours, Morocco and Tunisia, relying instead on its vast oil and gas revenues.
According to official figures, around half of those who do visit the country are Algerians living overseas.
In recent years however authorities have stepped up efforts to boost the sector.
The Tassili reserve, in the southeastern governorate of Djanet, is one focal point, with sand dunes, mountains and a wealth of birdlife and fauna, spreading over 138,000 square kilometres (53,000 square miles).
Earlier this month, a direct flight from Paris arrived in Djanet carrying 64 passengers, the first since the service was suspended 12 years ago following the murder of a French tourist by a jihadist group.
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