The head of government, Saad Eddine El Otmani, presented Tuesday, June 22 to parliament, the reception plan for Moroccans living abroad (MRE) for the tourist season 2021, raising the question of the costs on the budget of the ‘State and challenges related to the health situation in Morocco.
Speaking as part of the monthly general policy session in the House of Councilors, the chief executive announced that the decisions taken to encourage Moroccans living abroad to come and spend their summer holidays in the country would generate 4.5 billion DH of losses to the State.
This not insignificant amount represents the total of the reductions in the prices of plane or boat tickets reserved for MRE wishing to come to Morocco, after a year of covid-19, spent abroad without being able to return to the country. The exceptional decision, which should last 3 months, was taken by King Mohammed VI to revitalize the tourism sector in Morocco and is also a gesture for Moroccans abroad.
Saad Eddine El Othmani recalled the number of Moroccans living abroad, they are 5 million (of which 85% live in Europe), and representing about 12% of the Moroccan population. Of the 5 million, “180,000 have already returned to Morocco since June 15, 65% of which for about a week,” he said.
Regarding the seaway which must cost the State 2 billion, the head of government indicated that 8 ships have been mobilized, and another has been added. The 8 ships depart from 3 European cities, Genoa in Italy, and Sète and Marseille in France, while the 9th leaves from Marseille and Genoa and serves Tanger Med.
The initial capacity of the 8 ships is around 20,000 passengers and 5,000 cars per week, El Otmani said, and 4,000 passengers and 1,000 cars per week for the last mobilized. Ultimately, this fleet made available to Moroccans living abroad should see an attendance of 650,000 passengers and 180,000 cars according to estimates.
“The total capacity of these ships will increase to about 48,000 passengers and more than 15,000 cars per week” for the summer period between June 15 to September 15, 2021, he said, affirming that the Moroccan authorities are in discussions with the partners in Europe to increase the lines and are studying the opening of a line from Portugal.
On the other hand, the subsidies granted to the plane tickets of the Royal Air Maroc for the benefit of the MRE will cost the taxpayer not less than 2.5 billion dirhams, indicated the head of government. The seats made available will reach 2.5 million seats for the period from June 15 to September 15, “against 358,000 seats during the same period of last year”.
The price cut operation resulted from a huge influx in flight bookings. Several Moroccans living abroad said they could no longer find flights to Morocco. According to El Otmani, already 45% of the total seat capacity has been reserved as of June 21, representing 1,080,000 tickets.
The authorities have gone to great lengths to organize the flights and achieve the goals of the season. RAM has strengthened its direct lines with the countries where the MRE are the most numerous, and went from 49 flights per week in 2020 under covid to 162 per week with France, 76 flights to Spain, against 8 in 2020 and 35 flights to Italy, against 8 in 2020, explained the head of government.
Morocco is counting on the success of Operation Marhaba 2021, to revitalize the tourism sector increased to 50% by foreigners (MRE included), but does not lose sight of the epidemiological situation, in particular with the approach of Aid El Kebir which had been followed by a health disaster in 2020.
In this sense, Saad Eddine El Otmani considered that the success of Operation Marhaba while preserving the achievements made in the management of the Covid-19 pandemic was a challenge to be taken up.
“We are facing a real + national + epic and everyone must contribute to its success, able to make the summer of 2021 the consecration of Morocco of patriotism, solidarity and hope”, he said. -he says.