Tourists are being strangled in Morocco with the extension of the border closure. The country has been completely closed to tourism since 29 November and is expected to remain so at least until 31 January.
A situation that undermines the players in this strategic sector for Morocco. Tourism has been stagnant for almost two years.
The end of the year and the missed deal with foreign tourists definitely threw tourism professionals in deep distress. Many tourist resorts close in the largest tourist towns in the kingdom, the actors who have been involved in the profession for years have no choice but to retrain professionally.
# ouverzlesfrontières, a campaign to demand the reopening of Morocco
The stories of hotel owners having to close the store to take a job as a driver or in the port are numerous in the Moroccan press. Stories told by the French newspaper The cross which dedicates a report on tourist pain in Morocco, Wednesday 29 December. The newspaper recalls that Morocco received 3.4 million tourists in 2021, while 13 million in 2019 visited Morocco.
On social networks, the hashtag # فتحو_الحدود or # ouvrezlesfrontières continues to be shared. The hashtag was launched by tourism professionals, backed by Moroccans, whether in the Kingdom or abroad. Everyone is asking the Moroccan authorities to take action and regulate travel to Morocco in a less drastic way.
The Moroccan authorities provide very little support to these professionals. The only support offered is a monthly allowance of around 191 euros for employees in the tourism sector. But nothing is in place for managers and owners of tourism businesses.
Mounir Chami, from the National Federation of Tourist Transport explained a few weeks ago Figaro at “1,670 companies, 95% of which are VSE-SMEs, have been closed since the start of the crisisThey are all financially strangled and cannot pay their fees and credits.
After January 31, some hope for recovery
These political decisions have a dramatic effect on tourism, which is expected to resume with a rematch in December with the Christmas holidays. Thousands of reservations were canceled at the last minute.
Morocco had made the decision to cancel all commercial flights to its territory from 29 November 2021 at midnight for a period of two weeks. This approach was intended to protect Morocco from the Omicron variant and to maintain a health situation that was difficult to stabilize. However, this measure was postponed oftenfirst until 31 December, then until 31 January 2022.
From now on, the Moroccan destination arouses concern among the foreign public. There are already consequences for bookings in February and March. Tourists are now afraid of getting stuck in Morocco, at the slightest decision of the Moroccan authorities. Especially since repatriation flights in this kind of situation are too random and may also cease in the event of a significant risk associated with covid-19. This was the case with the cancellation of special flights on 23 December.
The period after 31 January therefore remains unclear for Moroccan tourism. The renewal of these closure measures is often announced at the last minute, leading to cancellations of flights and accommodation with no horizon to return to normal.
It is therefore unlikely that tourists will flock to reservations for the next holiday. The Omicron variant has barely reached its peak of infection, we can not predict its lineage. Europe, which supplies the majority of foreign tourists to Morocco, currently accounts for 57% of the total covid-19 cases worldwide.
All forms of tourism affected
Morocco, which has primarily focused on international tourism, is paying very dearly for this decision to close. The purchasing power of Moroccans is not on a par with a European tourist, only a minority in Morocco can afford to stay in tourist areas.
National tourism is maintained, but it is bringing low incomes back at the moment. In addition, even local tourism has to face obstacles: all cultural events or festivals are canceled, the vaccination card is mandatory to go to enclosed spaces.
The Moroccan media Eco Actu is also wondering about the impact of the closure of Morocco on the highly developed business tourism in the Kingdom. This is the last emergency handle, but again there is a risk that it will disappear in 2022.
Many planned congresses in Casablanca, Marrakech, Agadir or Tangier have been canceled. The organization of this type of event takes place in advance and requires a solid organization. Morocco does not have the weapons to reassure the tour operators responsible for arranging professional events.