Flights resume. Morocco is reopening its airspace on Monday, February 7, in an attempt to save the tourist season, a vital sector for its economy but devastated by the health crisis. The resumption of air links was greeted with relief by tourism operators and Moroccan nationals abroad, some stranded for weeks due to the outbreak of the Omicron variant in Morocco.
This reopening – somewhat overshadowed by the tragic death of little Rayan who fell into a well in the north of the country – is accompanied by strict restrictive measures to enter Moroccan territory, less draconian however than before the borders were closed on November 29. All travelers must be vaccinated, according to a government statement. In addition to the vaccination pass, he must present the result of a negative PCR test less than 48 hours old when boarding. Upon arrival in Morocco, he is subjected to a rapid antigen test and “random” PCR tests will be carried out on groups of passengers.
Good news for tourism
Finally, for tourists, the authorities provide “the possibility of carrying out an additional test at the hotel or at the residence center 48 hours after their entry into the territory”, specifies the press release. Passengers who test positive will be required to self-isolate in their place of residence. To revive the tourism sector, the government has planned a program of partnerships with international tour operators and airlines. An international advertising campaign is also scheduled to promote the “Morocco destination” which will start as soon as foreign tourists return.
The Moroccan tourism sector has been very badly shaken by an unprecedented drop of 71% in tourist arrivals in 2021 compared to 2019. The losses, over two years, amount to 20 million travelers and 90 billion dirhams (more than 8 billion euros) of income in foreign currencies. The government has launched an emergency plan of two billion dirhams (nearly 190 million euros) in order to preserve jobs and enable tourism businesses to cope with the financial constraints due to the interruption of their activities. A plan considered too timid by players in the sector.