Dame Covid has plunged the tourism sector into a serious and unprecedented crisis. For the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the Covid-19 pandemic is, “by far, the most serious crisis that international tourism has faced since records began (1950). The impact will be felt to varying degrees in time and space in different regions of the world”.
The impact of the pandemic on tourism is most severe in developing countries. The latter suffered (still suffer) the largest reductions in the number of tourist arrivals in 2020, estimated between 60 and 80%. The most affected regions are Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, Oceania, North Africa and South Asia, while the least affected are North America, Western Europe and the Caribbean. The collapse of international tourism due to the pandemic could lead to a loss of more than 4,000 billion dollars for the world GDP over the years 2020 and 2021, according to an UNCTAD report presented jointly with the UNWTO and published last June .
In Morocco, tourism, this essential economic sector, has been industrialized for decades by making its destinations affordable and welcoming. At the same time, democratization has also been made possible with the lifting of barriers to traffic and by deregulating the air sector, particularly with low cost. Unfortunately, this increase in tourist pressure on the Kingdom was suddenly curbed, one fine day in March, with the advent of the first case of Dame Covid, a little less than two years ago. Since Moroccan tourism in all its components, then had plenty of time to drink the chalice to the dregs.
A blow was fatal and as far as the consequences are concerned, just to situate ourselves, the figures for the hotel industry: the number of overnight stays by international tourists plummeted from 25.2 million in 2019 to 7 million in 2020. In Morocco, it will have to reinvent tourism as well as all the imaginations that revolve in its orbit. How do we prepare for it, this time, after this lifeline that is the reopening of the borders, and this, after many delays at the start? It’s that it’s a seized up machine that will have to be restarted for the good cause of a GDP, generating on average 11 points (7% through non-residents and 4% through national tourism ).
In the air, one of the elements of transport which makes one of the reasons for the life of our tourism, we are delighted with this news of the resumption of traffic and the companies operating in Morocco, Royal Air Maroc (RAM) and Air Arabia have made February 7 the launch of their programs on all their destinations with the hope that it can last. Some foreign companies are still reluctant to serve our skies (especially the low coast), but it will not be long. The National Airports Office (ONDA) followed suit by unveiling its new reception, health and security systems, etc. The prospect of being able to welcome customers again is not limited to the rapid reorganization air travel, the entire tourism sector in Morocco will be able to resume its activity.
It was a necessity given the extreme difficulties experienced by the sector recently. The only problem perhaps with this atmosphere of return the Executive has extended the state of health emergency in force since 2020, on the whole territory, until next February 28. The latter has yet to announce the precise conditions for access to the border posts. Despite this for the sector it remains good news for travel companies and hoteliers who are already welcoming of this announced recovery. And for good reason, the Kingdom is a traditional epicenter of sun tourism and especially in winter, an activity that he reluctantly put on hold for two years, to the chagrin of holidaymakers. Also, we are betting on the February holidays and already, hoteliers, restaurateurs, and other trades related to tourism, travel agencies, transport, guide… are rolling up their sleeves to welcome potential travelers. However, fans of nightlife venues, discotheques, casinos, etc. should still wait, as these spaces are still under restriction, hence the strong hope of seeing them reopen with the new government instructions.
Optimism is in order, especially since the sector supports a large number of small businesses and with many families, despite the recent announcement of a support plan of two billion dirhams (around 190 million euros) . However, these reflections and proposals revolving around the revival of the tourism sector in Morocco in the immediate term, are in the short or at most in the medium term. In Morocco, Dame Covid has not only brought tourism to a standstill. For everything, misfortune is good, it also revealed the structural weaknesses of this economic activity. In the light of this, it would therefore be necessary to project oneself towards the long-term consequences and rethink a new tourist model and no longer think about anything other than the means of relaunching it.