Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Japan are preparing for an influx of tourists after two summers marked by Covid-19

The summer tourist season is in full preparation in June. After two summers marked by the Covid-19 pandemic, the summer of 2022 should mark the return of tourists to many countries, which are therefore preparing for a larger influx than in previous years.

Gibraltar expects record influx

In Gibraltar, the great summer transhumance is preparing, and the authorities expect a record number of crossings of the strait against the bleeding. After two disastrous summers for the Moroccan tourism sector, the fighting has been going on for several months. In total, almost 2 million travelers are expected at Moroccan border posts by plane, ferry, bus or car.

The Spanish authorities have even launched the “Paso del estrecho” operation (“crossing the strait”, in French). Police and customs personnel have been increased and holidays canceled. On the Moroccan side, the “Marhaba” operation (“Welcome”, in French) has also been launched. This is for the Mohammed V Foundation to provide assistance to travelers on their way to a soaking holiday.

Although air transport has been democratized in recent years, families still cross Europe in overloaded cars with blue tarpaulins on the roof. Whether they pass through the ports of Sète, Marseille and Gène in the northern Mediterranean, or further south through the ports of Algeciras or Almeria, many still prefer to travel by car and ferry. Thus, the port of Tangier is preparing to receive 53 ferry rotations a day and 500,000 passengers by the end of August. On French and Spanish roads, the gendarmes are watching: Overloaded cars will be weighed and immobilized.

In Saudi Arabia, the goal is to welcome 12 million tourists

Saudi Arabia has set itself an ambitious target for 2022 of a total of 12 million tourists, or 3 million more than in 2021. It was the Ministry of Tourism that published this figure in early June. Riyadh is particularly focusing on easing restrictions linked to the Covid-19 pandemic, which has greatly affected the country’s tourist activity.

The restrictions have especially weighed on religious tourism, which has existed for a long time, with the pilgrimage to Mecca. Riyadh therefore expects an increase in these visits next month. This year should also make it possible to launch another tourism, long taboo, because it is accused of contaminating the holy places of Islam, but now wanted by the prince to inherit Mohammed Ben Salmane, in ancient sites or in desert and sea landscapes.Saudi Arabia had prepared for this in 2019 by launching tourist visas, but the pandemic put everything on hold.

The Kingdom has therefore sought to improve internal travel in the meantime to support the burgeoning tourism sector. The shift towards foreign tourism will therefore be tested in the coming months. It whets the appetite: France is collaborating on the development of Nabataean cemeteries. French companies have also won infrastructure contracts.

This development of tourism has for several years been accompanied by societal reforms. For example, concerts where young people can interfere are finally approved, major sports competitions are organized … It is a way to reach young people, but also to try to change the image of the kingdom, marked by oppression, the death penalty or bloody war in Yemen . Tourism must serve as a tool for international influence with a goal of 100 million visitors by 2030 and to diversify its economy by reducing its dependence on oil.

Japan is finally reopening its borders

In Japan, for the first time in two years, foreign tourists can land since Friday, June 10, but only in groups with a travel agent. This reopening of the borders worries the Japanese a little: “In the end, Covid-19 spread due to aliens coming to Japan, so I’m a little worried, but it’s true that now it’s almost like a cold.”, admits this young mother from Tokyo. The government itself has perpetuated this fear of foreigners by closing the country to them for two years, while allowing the Japanese to come and go freely. However, if he reopens the borders, he will control the behavior of people who are known to be very quick to remove their masks and ignore the rules.

Although individual tourists still have to wait, Japan needs tourists. At one point, it could do without it thanks to the major Japanese consumers, but it’s over. The country therefore loves tourists above all for their money, and the government does not hide this. “In 2019, before the pandemic, we had more than 30 million foreign visitors for revenues of 44 billion euros. From an economic point of view and the vitality of the regions, this is an extremely important contribution.”admits bluntly Hirokazu Matsuno, spokesman for the executive board. “At the moment we can not say how many people are coming, but it seems that bookings from abroad are going well and we hope that the resumption of tourist travel will lead to a boost in the regions’ economy. But for that, society will have to adapt to the mix of cultures.

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