In accordance with research by the World Travel & Tourism Council, the sector’s total contribution to Morocco’s GDP in 2015 was MAD172 billion (USD17.87 billion), and is forecast to rise two percent this year, and further surge 4.1 percent per annum until 2026.
As Mohamed Mekouar, chairman, Privilege Voyages Casablanca, noted, the country’s tourism industry has significantly developed over the past 15 years following modernisation in infrastructure, an open skies policy, wider promotion across the world, organisation of cultural and culinary festivals, as well as locally-held international summits, and all these whilst the country is upholding its true charm and character.
Similarly, Félix Murillo, general manager, Four Seasons Resort Marrakech, expressed that Morocco’s popularity among travellers has risen with the passage of time, as diversified leisure offerings are combined with a rich historical appeal, making it a sought-after destination for visitors in search of enriching experiences.
The surge was also reflected in the hotel’s business in 2015 as it registered increased guest arrivals over 2014.
TOURISM TAKING PRECEDENCE
Indeed, travel and tourism continues to flourish in Morocco, in line with the country’s Vision 2020, which outlines the principle of enhancing the competitiveness of the industry by addressing weaknesses and turning them into opportunities through a firm focus on new trends.
Moreover, the plan aims to double accommodation capacity in the Kingdom, with the addition of 200,000 new beds, a step expected to also expand tourist arrivals, mainly from Europe.
“With the Vision 2020 plan, tourism will remain the key driver of economic, social and cultural development [in] Morocco,” stated Emilie Pignol, director of sales and marketing, Mandarin Oriental, Marrakech.
“The key components of the touristic offer will be based on four pillars; authenticity, diversity, quality and sustainability.
This vision will be applicable for Marrakech but also for other key destinations which will accelerate their development, such as Rabat and Casablanca but also Fes, Tangier and the south of Morocco.”
Indeed, authorities are keen on pushing the tourism product of a number of cities.
“With something to cater to the needs of all kinds of travellers, from the dynamic cosmopolitan city of Casablanca, to the vibrant medinas and souks of Marrakech, to the awe-inspiring natural landscapes, numerous UNESCO World Heritage Sites, spirit-lifting adventures [as well as] rich food and cultural offerings – there is a vast spectrum of experiences to discover and explore,“ added Murillo.
Meanwhile, Olivier Thomas, general manager, Four Seasons Hotel Casablanca, commented, “In line with the country’s tourism and hospitality vision, it is only advantageous to Morocco’s larger tourism sector to offer more choice to visitors and promote and leverage the potential of other untapped destinations that also have a diverse range of attractions and experiences to offer.”
He added that with its diversified economy, the Kingdom is already well positioned for sustainable growth in the future and the authorities’ renewed commitment to showcase the currently lesser-known destinations will only drive more tourists to the country and create a positive impact on its economic growth.
The upscale business hotel, which opened in January, already eagerly anticipates to clock 40,000 room nights this year alone, mainly relying on European and GCC markets.
David Sanchez, director, Complete Tours, was keen to point out the noteworthy ventures across the country, highlighting investments in Tangiers, restoration works in Fez, as well as an influx of new restaurants, hotels and complexes in Casablanca.
Sanchez, however, noted that although work is underway to develop and promote alternative cities other than the prominent Marrakech, progress has been slo