Faced with the global health crisis caused by the covid-19 pandemic, the tourism sector is one of the sectors that has been hit the hardest. One year after the peak of the pandemic, activity is still deteriorated in Morocco with 2.5 million arrivals against an average of 13 million in normal times.
While Morocco has launched Operation Marhaba for the summer season and encouraged Moroccans living abroad to come and spend their holidays in the kingdom thanks to significant tariff reductions, the activity figures for the first 9 months of 2021 remain. well below average.
A little over 2 million Moroccans living abroad returned to Morocco between January and September 2021 against an average of 5.9 million per year, show figures from the Tourism Observatory.
As for foreign tourists, they were 540,000 to have spent their holidays in Morocco during the first 9 months of the year against an average of 7 million per year.
By way of comparison between 2019, that is to say a year before the pandemic and 2021, a year after vaccination and a well-established machine to deal with the virus, “ nearly 13 million have entered Morocco, including 7 million internationals and nearly 6 million MRE. This year the opposite has happened, the MRE outnumber the internationals. There was a reversal of the situation ”, Zoubir Bouhout, tourism expert and president of the Ouarzazate Provincial Tourism Council, told MoroccoLatestNews FR.
If the State was able to save the tourist season somewhat after a blank year in 2020, the results of all these steps remain, to say the least, insufficient. In terms of overnight stays, the results of the activity amount to 4 million overnight stays for nationals (including MRE) and 1.7 million for international visitors for a general total of 6 million overnight stays.
” It is true that these figures only reflect the first 9 months of the year, but one thing is certain, we have clearly felt this drop, there is no doubt ”, he said.
This drop in international tourist activity is mainly explained by the restrictions imposed on travelers by the Moroccan authorities, but also by the “instability” of health situations in the countries of origin of tourists.
In addition, the “This climate of uncertainty” did not help motivate foreign tourists to spend their holidays in Morocco “ who has been known for making decisions at the last minute, without notice ”, he argues, noting the latest example, with the United Kingdom, Germany, Russia.
“When someone plans their trip months in advance and is told about changes like this at the last minute, they are automatically afraid of getting stuck.”, estimates the expert in tourism.
In the case of the most motivated tourists, “ they organize their trip by making stops. For example, the British can come to Morocco via a country in zone A such as Spain, and they will only have to present their health pass, and if they come from France, they will have to add a PCR test. since France has moved to list B ”, remarks Bouhout.
But in reality, few tourists dare to make these stopovers by preferring direct flights, which translates into a drop in reservations and consequently flights to Morocco. Thus, the airport of Marrakech-Menara, supposed to serve the tourist city par excellence, has experienced in recent weeks continuous decreases in terms of attendance and flights.
Over the past two months, the airport has fallen from 655 weekly flights in mid-October to 516 flights in the week of November 15 to 21 and yet another drop for the week of November 22 to 28 with 488 flights.