The number of European tourists visiting Algeria increased by 65 percent in the first three months of 2000, representing a new era in the tourist industry, the tourism ministry announced Sunday.
A total of 17,051 European tourists travelled to the northern African country in the first three months of this year, compared to 10,321 during the same period in 1999, according to statistics released by the ministry.
The number of visitors from France, the former colonial power, doubled, making up over half the tourists to visit Algeria this year.
This increase "leads us to believe that the tourism industry is opening up further to appeal to foreigners," the tourism ministry said, adding that the visitors were especially attracted to the lure of the Saharan desert.
Tourism in Algeria ground to a halt during the 1990s when violence by Islamic extremists left over 100,000 dead.
© Agence France Presse 2000