Reopening borders, easing access conditions, resuming Operation Crossing the Straits after a two-year hiatus and emergency spending plan finally approved by Aziz Ahannouchi’s government barely able to sustain Morocco’s depleted tourism sectorwho suffered firsthand from the effects of COVID-19.
Tourism accounts for 7% of Morocco’s national GDP. For this reason, the Moroccan government is seeking to return the sector to the revenue and tourism figures it recorded before the pandemic.
The Minister of Tourism assured that the plan is in the right direction. Speaking at the House of Representatives, Fatima-Zahra Amor announced this Morocco recovered 84% of the volume of foreign tourists who visited the country four years ago. According to official figures, the Maghreb country welcomed almost 11 million people between the months of January and November 2022, despite the border closures that marked the first five weeks of the year, for almost 13 million tourists in 2019.
Ammor also acknowledged that the executive branch hopes “increase the number of tourists to 26 million by 2030.”. A huge challenge for a sector that has grown at an annual rate of 5.5% over the past two decades.
The figures contrast with those collected by other economies, which barely exceed 65%. The pro-government media credits the success of the emergency plan approved in January last year. The measure unlocks economic incentives for the tourism sector of 2 billion dirhams, or 18 million euros. “Half of this sum is dedicated to improving the hotel infrastructure so that tourists staying in Morocco are welcomed in the best conditions,” explained Amor of the legislative headquarters.
The minister took stock of the recovery of the Moroccan tourism sector and showed the cabinet’s optimism regarding the amount of investment they hope to attract in the coming months.
The head of the tourism portfolio, an old acquaintance of Prime Minister Aziz Ahanouk, with whom she has shared several professional projects in the private sector, announced that they expect an injection of 27 billion dirhams over the next three years, about 2 billion euros. To put it in perspective, in 2022 Morocco’s tourism sector received a total investment of 8.5 billion dirhams.
This will be the big challenge for Amor, who succeeded Nadia Fetah Alaoui in October 2021. The pandemic exposed the weakness of the sector, especially its heavy dependence on foreign tourism. And Ahannouchi hired her to reform tourism, Morocco’s key economic engine, which plays a crucial role in supporting the kingdom’s hard-currency economy and creating jobs, especially for young people. The consequences go beyond its contribution to GDP.
“We need to make an average progress of more than 30% in 2023 compared to 2022 to reach the same level as in 2019. It is possible but difficult. In particular, the first 4 months of 2023 will mainly have a catch-up effectas the air borders remained closed until February 6, 2022, and sea connections did not resume until mid-April, but with restrictive access conditions until mid-May,” emphasizes the director of the Ouarzazate Provincial Tourism Board, Zubir Bouhut in the digital Le Quottidien.