Magharebia (Washington DC)

24 January 2013

Morocco Looks to Revive Tourism Trade

Casablanca — Morocco is hoping 2013 will be a year of economic recovery for the tourism sector but experts are cautioning the rebound will not be as easy as once thought.

"Tourism in Morocco is crucial to the country's economy, as it represents about 7.1% of the gross domestic product," financial analyst Moussa El Mouritani explained.

The analyst told Magharebia that reviving the sector this year would be difficult: "The European market represents over 50% of the tourism in Morocco; however that market is still unstable and the economy is having a hard time getting back to its normal pace and normal progression."

Moroccan Tourism Minister Lahcen Haddad has pointed out that efforts have been made on many levels to find ways to minimise the impact of the weak economy, particularly in Europe.

Haddad said that the Moroccan government plans to develop and finalise pragmatic methods that would allow several projects to come to life. That would require raising a total of 38 billion dirhams for developing 36,000 additional beds and eventually lead to the creation of over 10,000 jobs.

The point here, Haddad said, was to invest with people involved in important projects such as the convention centre and the amusement park in Marrakech, the Tama Ouanza resort in Agadir as well as the myriad of resorts in Fez and the Biladi clubs in Martil and Benslimane.

Also on the 2013 agenda, the introduction of medical tourism and sustainable tourism classes.

Tour operators are dissatisfied and feel that the field "is not living up to expectations".

For Abdelali Mouktadir, who works in sales at a Marrakech hotel resort, the bad economy makes them less competitive.

Another Marrakech hotel operator said that the government should focus efforts mainly in the aviation sector and should work harder on making Morocco a tourist destination.

The country's potential is not being correctly showcased, Casablanca restaurant manager Driss Belloufi said.

The National Tourism Federation (FNT) wants to reinforce logistics so that the country's vision for domestic tourism gets some kind of support.

The tourism minister also looks to further reinforce training through the establishment of several partnerships with various international institutes.

He also asked field professionals to help out and determine their exact needs in terms of expertise and human resources.

On a financial level, Industry and Trade Minister Abdelkader Amara noted that tourism related investments come mainly from domestic sources (64%), while only 36% come from abroad, primarily the US and Saudi Arabia.

"Next year we will have investments in the area of 20 to 30 billion dirhams," he said.

According to the latest data of the High Commission for Planning (HCP), tourism represents more than 7 per cent of the gross domestic product and is one of the top five job generating fields in Morocco.

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