Morocco is taking the temperature among shipping companies regarding the holding of Operation Marhaba, after its interruption last year to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
The Moroccan government has started preparations for Operation Marhaba and is counting on the cooperation of shipping companies, asking the latter operating lines between the two sides of the Strait of Gibraltar to present their ” fleet plan as part of preparations for the next operation Marhaba ”, according to EFE.
Officially, no decision on the operation has yet been communicated, neither from Spain nor from Morocco. Marhaba represents the largest movement of people and vehicles in the world between two continents: in its latest edition, in 2019, 3,340,045 passengers and 760,215 vehicles crossed the strait in its departure and return phases.
This movement of people not only promotes family reunification, but also constitutes a formidable economic stimulus in Morocco, since its emigrants residing in Europe, who constitute the bulk of the operation, leave an enormous amount of foreign currency in three months (June 15 -September 15) in which it develops.
When last summer the Moroccan government, after several months of uncertainty, announced that it was canceling this operation, it nevertheless kept open certain passenger maritime lines with Europe, in particular from Sète in France and Genoa in Italy, both bound for Tangier.
Ships that traveled these routes had to be equipped with onboard laboratories to be able to perform PCR tests that would isolate passengers who tested positive upon arrival in Morocco, a country that has successfully controlled the spread of the virus thanks to restrictions on movement.
Currently, it is mandatory to enter Morocco the presentation of a PCR test valid for 72 hours, in addition to a hotel reservation; but also, the Maghreb country has closed its land borders and its skies to more than forty countries “until further notice”.