This Business Week article paints a grim picture for the future of tourism in Algeria following the In Amenas gas plant attack. But Algeria is not new to atrocities like this, and unless such dramatic events become regular I think there’s still hope for small ventures.
In Djanet a week or two earlier the agent joked with us that at least they were now targeting the far more crucial gas industry instead tourism which never really recovered following ‘2003’. It was a hollow joke of course if your sole business is tourism. I suspect the agencies that have scraped by and are still be able to offer a service are those for whom tourism is not the sole source of revenue. What that other revenue might be to some it’s better not to ask. Both the freelance guides we used on our recent camel- and donkey treks moonlighted as plateau guides for smugglers from nearby Libya in the lean years of the 1990s, and at least one had a couple of spells in prison on account of it. These days such ventures are far more risky of course. The picture above right is the view east from Sefar, showing the Libyan Akakus about 50km away and the town of Ghat at it’s foot.
The golden era of the 1980s tourism may be over in Algeria, but as I suggest in that article enough expertise, great destinations and circuits have built up over the years to offer a solid foundation for those who still believe the deserts of Algeria are a worthwhile destination.