To deal with the repercussions of the pandemic, the government worked urgently and in collaboration with professionals and tourism stakeholders to put in place an emergency plan, which saved the sector from collapse. in a difficult and tense global economic situation, Prime Minister Aziz Akhannouch said on Tuesday.
Speaking during the plenary session devoted to the responses of the Head of Government to questions relating to general policy around the tourism strategy, held on Tuesday in the House of Councillors, Aziz Akhannouch dissected the various advances in the tourism sector as well as the measures that allowed him to escape the collapse scenario.
According to the head of government, the number of tourists arriving in Morocco had decreased by 79% in 2020 and by 71% in 2021 compared to 2019, which was a reference year. This represented a huge loss estimated at 90 billion dirhams in terms of the country’s hard currency income.
In order to deal with it, he continues, the government has worked urgently and responsively with the professionals involved in the sector to implement an emergency plan by mobilizing an amount of 2 billion dirhams (MMDH) , to support the economic recovery.
“The emergency plan to support the sector drawn up by the government has been successful, supporting players in the tourism sector and helping tourism businesses to overcome the negative effects of the pandemic and preserve jobs.“, explains Akhannouch.
It thus recalls the key measures adopted within the framework of this plan, in particular the extension of the payment of the fixed indemnity, the deferral of the charges due to the CNSS for 6 months, the establishment of a moratorium relating to bank maturities, the exemption from business tax due by hoteliers in 2020 and 2021, and finally the granting of the State subsidy to the hotel sector for a total amount of 1 billion dirhams, from which 737 establishments benefited.
Besides, “the government has mobilized all the material, human, logistical and organizational capacities for the success of the “Marhaba” operation, according to a participatory approach and a global mobilization of the various stakeholders, which reflects the wise royal vision and directives of His Majesty. Majesty to improve the services provided to Moroccans residing abroad (MRE) and to continuously improve its reception conditions“, adds the head of government.
On the other hand, the “e-visa” was also approved as a new system to facilitate the access of beneficiaries to an entry visa to the Kingdom of Morocco. This visa is available to citizens of 49 countries, and to date more than 80,000 electronic visas have been granted, the official reveals.
Thanks to all these efforts, Morocco experienced a very strong recovery after the opening of the borders. Akhannouch said that the Kingdom welcomed, between March and December 2022, around 11 million tourists, with an increase of +292% compared to 2021, and +391% compared to 2020. Thus, the sector recorded, in just 10 months, 84% of tourist capacity compared to the whole of 2019. Morocco, he insists, was able to recover 84% of this capacity, compared to an average of 63% in other countries of the whole world.
In addition, the number of overnight stays recorded in classified tourist accommodation establishments doubled compared to 2021, to exceed 19 million overnight stays, an increase of +192%. Internal tourism, meanwhile, represents 50% of the number of arrivals in classified tourist accommodation establishments, compared to 38% before the crisis. Tourist receipts in hard currencies, for their part, exceeded the ceiling of 93.6 billion dirhams at the end of 2022, i.e. a rate of 119% compared to 2019, and 170% compared to 2021.
“All the indicators are continuing their upward trend at the start of the year, since an increase of +17% was recorded in the number of tourist arrivals at the end of February 2023 compared to 2019. In addition, receipts have crossed the 16 MMDH between January and February, registering an increase of 50% compared to the same period in 2019 and more than 400% compared to that of last yearsays Akhannouch.
In parallel with the urgent measures, the government undertook, as soon as the borders opened, to take a set of measures necessary to revive and develop tourist activity. “We have worked on the launch of extensive promotional campaigns to market the tourism potential locally and internationally, and to promote the Morocco destination, including “Ntla9awfbladna”, and “Morocco, land of light”, among others“.
And to add:To strengthen the governance of the tourism sector, the government has worked to develop the legislative mechanism of the sector, by promulgating a set of texts, such as the decree regulating the profession of travel agent, the decree regulating the profession of tourist guide …“.
Thus, the government is fully mobilized to diversify the tourist offer and adapt it to the new demands of tourists, particularly in terms of cultural, rural, mountain and ecological tourism, which will enable our country to attract a diversified segment of visitors throughout the year.
Akhannouch also recalls that the remarkable participation of the National Football Team in the World Cup in Qatar has largely contributed to the influence of the Kingdom at the international level and formed a remarkable communication campaign for the benefit of the country.
He thus called on the various tourism stakeholders to strengthen their involvement in this dynamic that the sector is experiencing, after having initiated the implementation of the 2023-2026 strategic roadmap. “This roadmap highlights the potential of Morocco as a reference tourist destination, given the expansion of the national tourist offer, the intensification of competition at regional and international levels.“.