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The Moroccan tourism sector is brooding


Written by Gérard Tur on Thursday, December 2nd 2021 à 16:50 | Read 342 times


Already weakened by two years of crisis Covid, tourism professionals fear that the closure of Morocco's borders will deal them a fatal blow.


No more air and sea lines to Morocco, at least for a fortnight. Photo FD.
No more air and sea lines to Morocco, at least for a fortnight. Photo FD.
MOROCCO. For once, Moroccan tourism professionals are not hiding their bitterness in a country where criticising the government is not a habit. The closure of the borders is hurting a sector already on its knees after almost two years of Covid crisis. Following Easy Jet, Ryanair has decided to cancel all its flights to Morocco until 1 February 2022, "due to the lack of clarity from the government", the company laments.
 
The suspension of air and sea lines imposed by the Moroccan authorities to fight against the Omicron variant could constitute "a fatal blow to the sector" according to Mohamed Semlali, president of the National Federation of Travel Agencies of Morocco (FNAVM), interviewed by AFP.

The borders will remain closed for at least two weeks, depriving Morocco of tourists expected for the end-of-year celebrations. Hundreds of millions of euros will be lost to hoteliers, tour operators, guides, taxis and other tourism professionals. 50% of the hotels are already closed. Those still open will have to do the same.

In a "normal" year, tourism brings in seven to eight billion euros to Morocco, or 7% of the country's GDP. This is without counting the informal economy, which is particularly present and which provides a living for thousands of "little hands". The windfall fell by 65% in 2020, resulting in the destruction of a quarter of the sector's jobs.

December was supposed to be a turning point for 2021, after a good summer thanks to a strong presence of Moroccans on the beaches, and a real appetite of tourists for a newfound freedom at the end of the year. This will not be the case. 2021 could result in an 80% drop in tourism turnover compared to 2019.
 
Zahar Amor, Morocco's Minister of Tourism, has announced the reintroduction of a monthly allowance for the sector. It amounts to just under €200.



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