Morocco's tourism revenues register increase

#FeatureByEVisa - Morocco has registered a large increase in tourism revenues up from the previous years, as it launches a number of campaigns to reach pre-Covid levels.

Feature by E Visa

Morocco has registered an impressive increase in tourism revenue of over 123% over the past year, a new report from the North African country’s Directorate of Financial Studies and Previsions has shown.

Revenues increased by over 500% in March and more than 300% over the month of April, culminating in a total revenue of MAD 13.6 billion ($1.3 billion).

This represents a 79.7% recovery rate compared with the MAD 4 billion ($400 million) pulled in during the same period in 2019. The recovery rate was 91.2% for the months of March and April, according to the report.

By the end of May, the number of tourists traveling to Morocco quadrupled from the same period in 2021, from 500 thousand to 2.3 million. Approximately 51% of this 2.3 million were foriegn tourists, with the other 49% made up of members of the Moroccan diaspora visiting home.

The removal of COVID-19 travel restrictions imposed by the coronavirus pandemic seems to signal a quick recovery for the country’s tourism industry after a tough 2021. The country reopened its borders to tourism for the first time on February 7, 2022, and since then the number of tourist arrivals has been firmly on the rise.

The numbers look set to increase even more now that the Moroccan government has introduced a new Morocco visa online application. The electronic visa is being introduced with a further view to boost tourist arrivals and make the country an attractive holiday destination.

Over 49 nationalities will be able to obtain the digital travel document online, meaning they will no longer need to face long embassy visa application procedures or long airport queues. They will be able to gain expedited entry to Morocco at border checkpoints.

It is hoped the visa will help bring Morocco’s tourist arrivals back up to pre-pandemic levels, as the numbers are still down by around 50% compared to the same period in 2019. This roughly aligns with World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) predictions, which estimated that in comparison to 2019, international tourist arrivals would vary between 30% and 45%.

However, even during 2020, the worst year for traveling amid strict pandemic restrictions, Morocco still managed to record 3 million tourist arrivals, ranking 53rd in the world for the period. In Northern Africa, it ranked 4th for tourist arrivals at the time.

Morocco also managed to generate around 4.51 billion US Dollars in 2020 in the tourism sector alone. This corresponded to 3.4 percent of its gross domestic product and approximately 43 percent of all international tourism receipts in Northern Africa in that year.

Even though these numbers were heavily affected by the pandemic, this level of tourism revenue is still a huge jump up from the numbers of 20-30 years ago. In 1995, Moroccan tourism revenues amounted to 1.47 billion USD, or about 3.8 percent of the gross national product, from roughly 2.75 million tourist arrivals.

Still, Morocco has plans in motion to boost tourism revenue even more in the coming years. In recent months it has launched a number of campaigns with the goal of promoting the country as an attractive tourist destination.

In April, the National Tourist Office of Morocco (ONMT) launched a tour with stops in Paris, London, and New York to promote the country as one of the “world’s most coveted tourist destinations.” The focus was on encouraging tourists between the ages of 25 and 59,

Dubbed “Morocco, the Land of Light”, the initiative aimed to solidify Morocco’s attractiveness in the international market. The aim was to specifically attract tourists from African and Middle Easterns states, as well as France, Spain, Germany, the UK, US, and Israel.

This followed a successful partnership between the ONMT and the popular travel app Trip Advisor in March, with the aim to promote popular tourist destinations in Morocco to the 400 million monthly users of the app.

The campaigns to boost tourist arrivals amped up further in May, when Minister of Tourism and Handicrafts Fatima Zahra Ammour held a meeting to maximize preperatiations to revitalize the country’s tourism sector during the summer season.

The meeting resulted in the birth of Operation Marhaba 2022. This campaign, set to run from June through to September, specifically focuses on drawing back Moraccoans living abroad for a summer holiday.

The latest campaign is expected to help increase overnight stays by both international tourist arrivals and Moroccans living abroad, which are up nearly 20% over the previous year, already three times as high as they were pre-pandemic.

It is also a goal of Ammour's vision to encourage investment in small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs), particularly those that provide entertainment.

The fact that mandatory PCR testing for vaccinated passengers has now been removed is another factor in the rise of tourist arrivals to the country, and a further step to raising tourist revenue in Morocco back up to pre-COVID levels.

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