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A catastrophic year 2020 for tourism in Morocco

The 2020 season may end with the scores recorded in the early 1980s according to a statistical study carried out by Zoubir Bouhout, director of the Provincial Tourism Council of Ouarzazate. If the crisis persists, the number of arrivals would be around 2.37 million tourists. This would then represent a loss of more than 10.5 million tourists compared to the 2019 season, with 5.5 million foreign tourists staying and 4.9 million Moroccans living abroad less.

While the summer season should more or less mitigate the effects of the Covid-19 crisis, internal tourists are not at the rendezvous in hotels, especially in the seaside segment, in this month of July. By force of circumstances, the uncertainty related to the duration of the state of health emergency, the latter having been extended until August 10, 2020, with the closure of borders to foreign tourists, also encouraged to spend their holidays in their country, the difficulties encountered by Moroccans living abroad to return to the country and the delay related to promotional measures and offers in favor of the national market further penalize tourist activity in Morocco. “It is very likely that the achievements of this atypical season of 2020 would approach the figures recorded at the beginning of the 1980s”, predicts Zoubir Bouhout, director of the Provincial Tourism Council in Ouarzazate, as part of a statistical study carried out on the subject of monitoring of the repercussions of this health crisis on national tourism.

According to this study, the number of arrivals should exceed 2.37 million tourists, a loss of more than 10.5 million tourists compared to the 2019 season, mainly due to the 5.5 million foreign tourists staying. Regarding overnight stays, estimates would be around 5.8 million, a loss of nearly 19.5 million overnight stays compared to 2019, including more than 5.8 million overnight stays generated by the internal tourism. As a reminder, Moroccan tourism has experienced a clear evolution in terms of arrivals, overnight stays and foreign exchange earnings since 2012. From 9.37 million tourists, arrivals increased to 12.93 million tourists in 2019, while that the overnight stays went from 17.56 million to 25.24 million during the period 2012-2019. This performance had a very positive impact on foreign exchange earnings, which rose from MAD 57.8 billion in 2012 to MAD 78.7 billion in 2019.

This consequence of the health crisis, which was foreseen following the various developments, is being confirmed day by day. “The sector lacks visibility on its future. Apart from a few hotels, the majority of establishments remained empty during the month of July, and professionals will navigate on sight during the month of August”, explains Najia Ounassar, president of the Association of the hotel industry of Agadir (AIHA). In addition to the upheaval of the exam period, the celebration of Eid Al-Adha will lessen the aspirations of a return to activity for some time, with a return to school scheduled for early September. Agadir, popular during the summer period by nationals, recorded an average occupancy rate that did not exceed, according to the AIHA, 20% during July on a classified capacity estimated at 32,000 beds. Reservations forecasts are promising for Taghazout resort (4 operational hotels), including rental accommodation north of Agadir. “The Imi Ouaddar station dedicated to domestic tourism is full in July and August because the product is already adapted to this segment”, it is indicated. For their part, according to forecasts made by the regional tourism council, the repercussions of this health crisis, with border closures until the end of December, would generate 2.2 billion dirhams in losses on the tourist chain in the destination.

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