The tourism sector in Morocco has been going through a hard period since the start of the pandemic. While operators in the sector were hoping to catch up during the end-of-year holidays, the government announces a closure of air borders throughout this period and until the end of January 2022 to limit the spread of Covid-19, in particular the new variant Omicron.
A coup de grace for the professionals of the sector, in particular the travel agencies which ” agonize ”Following the succession of closures since the outbreak of the pandemic. Unable to withstand the crisis, 50 to 80% of the agencies closed shop in the absence of direct government support.
Indeed, since the last announcement to close Morocco’s borders, travel agencies have received dozens of bookings cancellations. A decision, although respected by operators, has damaged their business.
” It is not going well at all ! The first quarter of 2022 is now dead. We respect the government’s decision to close the borders to preserve the gains, but there has to be solid support from the government. For the allowances given to employees of 2,000 DHS, they are no longer worth anything after two years of crisis and closure” , entrusted to MoroccoLatestNews, Khalid Benazouz, President of the Association of Casablanca-Settat Travel Agencies.
What travel agencies offer
In front of this situation ” of agony That travel agencies go through, professionals in the sector are calling for direct and solid support from the government in place, which can be broken down into several points.
It is first of all an amnesty on the part of the General Directorate of Taxes (DGI), argues Khalid Benazouz, through the granting of direct subsidies for the benefit of agencies and loans at reduced rates, like this which is done for the project ” Intelaka“, To encourage companies to resist the crisis and save the sector.
” We have to subsidize businesses that have enormous costs and costs. Today and after two years of crisis, these companies have exhausted their cash flow. The sector is therefore considered to be going through a drought and in need of support such as that granted to the agriculture sector in 2014, when the government supported farmers by releasing subsidies and by paying off their debts with Crédit Agricol.e ”, supports this professional who cites the example of Italy which made donations to travel agencies to the tune of 140,000 euros each, in addition to 60,000 euros of credits at 1.5% bank rate and payable over several years.
Covid-19 crisis: Banks and insurance companies did not follow through
During the confinement phase that Morocco experienced between March and May 2020, the Economic Watch Committee (CVE) launched the Damane Oxygene loan to meet the cash flow needs of small businesses and medium-sized companies that have experienced a drop in activity due to the health crisis.
Asked about this measure, Khalid Benazouz believes that travel agency professionals need much more than that, noting that banks and insurance companies have unfortunately not shown solidarity during the period of crisis.
” Insurance unfortunately did not follow. Covid-19, not being declared as a natural disaster, the latter continued to cash in as well as the banks. Today, when we ask the bank for a loan, it asks us for a provisional balance sheet. Is the government able today to give us a forecast date for the end of the pandemic? No ! So we too can’t predict how things will turn out in 2022“, Underlines Benazzouz.
For the president of the AAV, there must be support and general solidarity, especially from the banks which must review their bank rates downward.
Repetitive closures: destabilized customers
Following the repetitive closure of borders by the Kingdom, customers, Moroccans and foreigners, no longer trust travel agencies, the president of AVV confides in us, given the difficulties encountered for repatriation and ticket costs. which were the responsibility of the customer.
” Today, we also need insurance from the government and the state, for tourists who come to Morocco. They must be assured that the government will take care of the repatriation, in the event of a closure or problems related to the pandemic.“, Recommends this professional.
Being pessimistic, Khalid Benazouz thinks that the situation is not about to improve since there is a strong possibility that the government will prolong the closure of the borders, due to the epidemiological situation in Europe which is worsening. .
” After the month of February, it is the month of Ramadan (April) which arrives and which represents the low season for professionals. We have therefore arrived at the end of the first quarter of 2022, which is dead for us. It also depends on Europe, which is a source market (France-Germany, England, etc.), and where the pandemic is in full swing. Then, it is not in our interest to open up with Europe, in the interest of our Moroccan fellow citizens. So it’s a double-edged sword“, He laments.
Closing borders at peak times is a good thing, says Khalid Benazouz, ”mBut we have to support operators in the tourism sector. We must not let them die“, He said.
” Travel agencies, like other operators, create added value, create wealth, jobs, employ many other stakeholders (direct and indirect) which amount to 2-3 million individuals. while the sector represents between 7 to 12% of the national GDP. The pandemic is here, but strong state and government support is needed“, He suggests.
However, he notes, “ it is out of the question that we are talking about credit again, because we can’t take any more credits. We can’t even pay the ones we have“.