Morocco

Morocco Seeks to Attract 11 Million Tourists in 2017

Chaima Lahsini

Rabat - Morocco seeks to build on the positive performance of the tourism sector in 2016 and attract more tourists in 2017.

Moroccan tourism activity recorded very positive results in February, with a 10.6 percent increase in arrivals at border crossings and 18.8 percent in overnight stays in tourist accommodation establishments.

According to the Ministry of Tourism, tourist activity seems to be recovering in the beginning of 2017. Very positive results have been registered since November 2016. The majority of both traditional and emerging markets contributed to this upward trend at the end of February 2017, with a positive impact on Morocco’s main tourist destinations.

The traditional markets, namely French, Spanish, German and British marked respective increases of 6 percent, 22 percent, 19 percent and 7 percent. Emerging markets also recorded strong performances, with an increase of 923 percent for the Chinese market, 82 percent for Russia, 62 percent for Japan, 32 percentfor the United States, 20 percent for Canada and 17 percent for the African market. The strategy of market diversification adopted by the Moroccan National Tourist Office (ONMT) is paying off.

This tourist flow is reflected in the number of visitors to classified accommodation establishments (EHTC) since the beginning of this year. As of the end of February, the EHTC showed an increase in overnight stays of 14.8 percent, with an increase of 20.2 percent for non-residents and 4.1 percent for residents.

The occupancy rate increased by 4 points with an additional 12 points for club hotels, 5 points for 4-star hotels and 3 points for 5-star hotels. This recovery was also observed at the level of the kingdom's main tourist destinations, which recorded double-digit growth in the first two months of the year, according to the ministry. An increase of 17 percent was registered for Marrakech, 19 percent for Agadir, 37 percent for Fez, 25 percent for Tangier and 8 percent for Casablanca.

To keep up this pace, the ONMT does not intend to step up its efforts. The tourist office will soon adopt a new vision based on profitable participation in various international fairs, while investing in digital communication and support for airlines.

To consolidate the Moroccan brand as a true tourist destination, the ONMT has launched its newest campaign. "This place is made for painters ... The beautiful abounds". This quotation from Eugène Delacroix's travel diary is the slogan of the new campaign, underlined by Moroccan newspaper L'Economiste.

The ONMT is counting on an additional 600,000 tourists this year, which will reach nearly 11 million tourists. In 2016, Morocco attracted 10.33 million tourists, marking a slight increase of 1.5 percent compared to 2015. This growth is due to good performances linked to the diversification of the issuing markets, notably China, Russia, and the United States.

This year, the ONMT expects the arrival of an additional 100,000 Chinese tourists as in the first two months of 2017 their arrivals recorded a leap of 22 percent compared to last year.

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