The total closure of Moroccan airspace in the face of rising fears related to the varying Omicron level has dampened the hopes of tourism operators in Morocco at the end of the year. After a blank year for the tourism sector, “the year 2021 will be as catastrophic as 2020”.
“Thanks to King Mohammed VI’s measures to encourage the families of Moroccans living abroad to come and spend their holidays in Morocco, the tourism sector has been reinvigorated. He resumed service after a year of crisis over the period from half of June but especially July, August and September ”, declared to MoroccoLatestNews FR, Zoubir Bouhoute, the president of the Provincial Tourism Council of Ouarzazate.
But this tourism has been mainly turned to the seaside towns, and the rest of the tourist regions were betting heavily on the end of the year 2021 to be able to turn the page on the crisis. Unfortunately, all bookings were canceled due to the emergence of the new Omicron variant, which upended all country plans.
For tourism operators, it is the same scenario as in 2020 which is looming with the closure of the airspace of the kingdom decided by the authorities, last Sunday. “In 2020, we had worked in January, February and half of March before everything stopped, and there the same. We had barely 3 positive months with Operation Marhaba in July, August and September, and at the beginning of October, airline closures began with Russia, the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands. , and then more recently France. Now all destinations are closed, ”said the tourism expert.
While in 2021, the sector was hoping for a soft recovery, but at least concrete with the easing of restrictions and the improvement of the health situation in Morocco, this recovery “was nipped in the bud” regrets Zoubir Bouhoute.
“The year 2021 will be as catastrophic as 2020. It is the result of the air restrictions that we have now,” he said, noting the slowing down of the sector by 78% over the first 9 months of the year .
For this end-of-year holiday period, with Christmas and the New Year, tourist operators hoped to end their year on a high note, especially because Morocco is a popular destination to spend these holidays among tourists. foreigners, and Marrakech is one of their favorite destinations.
“The national tourist office has signed at least 45 agreements with airlines, which means that several flights have been scheduled, in particular for Marrakech. The operators thought they could recover with the end of the year, but it is a real blow after this hope of recovery, ”he explained.
If Morocco has only announced the closure of its airspace for two weeks, according to Zoubir Bouhoute, “we should not be under any illusions, because the health situation will not improve in just two weeks”, considering that an extension of this measure should be expected for the rest of December and a more serious health situation in European countries in January.
“For December, there will be nothing, it’s a big loss for us,” he says. “Even in 2022, we must expect to see this situation continue because we are at the start of this new variant and in winter, the situation becomes more critical,” he added.
According to the World Health Organization, this new variant deemed “worrying” could cause yet another wave of contamination in the world, and even if information on the dangerousness of this variant is scarce, scientists have already seen that he has mutated several times, which demonstrates his ability to adapt to the human body.
At an emergency meeting of health ministers, G7 countries asserted that Omicron is “highly transmissible” and that in the face of its very rapid and high spread, this requires “urgent action”. In South Africa, where the first cases carrying this new variant in the world have been detected, health authorities expect to reach 10,000 infected cases daily over the next few days.