Morocco’s recipe for reviving tourism

By Maher Hajbi

Posted on March 24, 2023 16:34

 Tourists ride in a horse-drawn carriage on Jemaa el-Fnaa Square in Marrakech, May 12, 2022. ©FADEL SENNA / AFP
Tourists ride in a horse-drawn carriage on Jemaa el-Fnaa Square in Marrakech, May 12, 2022. ©FADEL SENNA / AFP

Improving air services, upgrading existing hotels, diversifying its offer… Rabat is revising its ambitions upwards to attract 17.5 million tourists by the year 2026.

With a new strategic roadmap of MAD6.1bn ($595m) over four years, the kingdom intends to boost the recovery of its tourism industry.

“Morocco is experiencing unprecedented momentum, and this roadmap is an excellent opportunity to transform the sector,” says Morocco’s Tourism Minister Fatima-Zahra Amor.

Signed as part of a collaborative framework between the government and the national tourism confederation, the 2023-2026 strategic roadmap aims to “reposition tourism as a key sector in the national economy”, according to a statement from Prime Minister Aziz Akhannouch’s office. Indeed, tourism, hard hit by the health crisis, contributes up to 7% to Morocco’s gross domestic product (GDP).

200,000 new jobs

Although the sector generated a turnover of MAD22bn in 2019, the Moroccan government hopes to quickly exceed this pre-pandemic level. The strategic roadmap foresees 120bn dirhams in foreign exchange earnings and 200,000 new jobs, 80,000 direct and 120,000 indirect, whereas the industry provided nearly 550,000 jobs before the crisis and the closure of borders.

In order to attract 17.5 million tourists in 2026, the kingdom has defined its priority projects: redesigning the customer experience, doubling its air capacity, creating new hotels and strengthening partnerships with tour operators. “We will focus on excellent execution through a new governance model involving private and public stakeholders,” Tourism Minister Amor said.

A delicate recovery

“The roadmap should allow a quantitative and qualitative leap guaranteeing an irreproachable customer experience and positioning Morocco among the world’s leading tourist destinations,” says the Moroccan government, which in 2022 put in place a MAD2bn ($190m( emergency plan to support professionals in the sector and maintain jobs during the health crisis.

After two slow years, the country’s tourism industry has begun to show signs of recovery. With 11m visitors in 2022, the kingdom welcomed 84% of the volume of foreign tourists who visited in 2019 (13m). “The sector has recovered 116% of travel receipts in foreign currency compared to 2019,” the Tourism Minister said in February.

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