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Morocco wants to attract 500,000 cruise passengers by 2021

A strong delegation composed of members of the ONMT, three TRCs, specialized agencies and the ports office participated from 8th to 11th April at the Miami Trade Fair “Sea Trade Cruise Global”. This participation augurs a will to quickly increase the number of cruise passengers to 500,000 against only 227,000 in 2018. According to a source of the ONMT, requiring anonymity, this project will be one of the priorities of its new DG.

After several years of steady decline in the number of cruise ships making stops in Morocco, the office responsible for the promotion of tourism (finally) the record in hand to reverse this disaffection.

In 2018, Morocco attracted 227,000 cruise passengers while the destination reached 489,000 visitors in 2010.

The opportunity to look into the new roadmap Club Cruise Morocco whose members are the ONMT (Moroccan National Tourism Office), the CRT (Regional Centers of Tourism) and public and private agents (travel agencies and shipping agents).

Morocco Cruise Club Action Plan

Thus, the ONMT began by strengthening the presence of operators in specialized international fairs such as the one held in Miami in April and bringing together all the players concerned by this niche tourism.

With a strong delegation including the representatives of the ONMT, the CRTs of the 3 main ports of the Kingdom (Casablanca, Agadir and Tangier) and 7 private travel agents specialized in this tourist niche, the Moroccan participation was very noticed.

After taking part in the Lisbon show in September 2018, the Moroccan presence at the Miami show (largest in the world) has allowed it to sell its three most important port destinations to the four world shipowners who share 90% of the market.

According to a source from the ONMT, the priority has been to highlight the three existing ports by concentrating and maximizing Morocco’s efforts on these structures already equipped and referenced by shipowners around the world.

In other words, only these port infrastructures will be exploited for the cruise circuits knowing that the ports of Nador, Saidia and Kabila will rather be intended for small pleasure boats.

Today, the port of Tangier-ville is dedicated exclusively to Ferry & Cruises activities, that of Casablanca which is a historical port in the region, will be equipped in the coming months with a platform dedicated to cruises and finally the port of Agadir, which exceeds 100,000 cruise passengers a year, wants to attract part of the cruise traffic organized in the Canary Islands.

Slow customs procedures and nuisance

Asked about the actions planned to remedy the long customs procedures that discourage cruise promoters knowing that tourists have only a few hours of call, our interlocutor ensures that the ONMT has mobilized the authorities to accompany this activity.

“Knowing that the economic and social impact of the cruise is not negligible, our outreach work in Casablanca, Tangier and Agadir with the members of the Cruise Club (public and private) is already beginning to bear fruit,” says our source.

Ditto for the many charlatans (carriers, false guides …) that abound around ports and discourage the return of tourists and ultimately promoters of cruises.

“The Morocco Cruise Club raises awareness among the authorities. Apart from a few isolated cases, we noted an improvement in the quality of reception,” says our interlocutor who recognizes however that the room for improvement is still large.

Integrate the largest association in the sector

To further inscribe Morocco in cruise circuits, the ONMT has scheduled prospecting visits and will reinforce the commercial solicitation of cruise ship owners and organizers during specialized or general B2B trade shows.

In parallel, in order to highlight Morocco’s strengths with the decision-makers who are members of the powerful organization of the cruise industry, the ONMT will try to integrate the CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association).

It should be noted that this institution created in 1975, the largest professional association in the world, counts more than 50 shipowners, 340 tourism and technical partners, 25,000 travel agents and treats more than 24 million passengers annually.

Return to 500,000 cruise passengers after the 2001 collapse

Regarding the collapse of arrivals of cruise passengers, our source explains that after the attacks of 11 September 2001, an international procedure on the safety of port facilities and ships was put in place to prevent a vessel from being targeted terrorist ..

Classified Level 2 (Increased risk of security incident with additional procedures) in the past, Morocco has suffered the deprogramming of shipowners worried about risk. A constraint that is now out of date because the country has returned to level 1 (normal situation and minimum procedures).

While recognizing that the administrative procedures (customs …) and the lack of signage are hindering the development of this niche, our source argues that the increasing attractiveness of Morocco and modern infrastructure (especially in Tangier and Casablanca) will reverse the trend downward.

“Ultimately, the ambition of the Morocco Cruise Club is to find the fastest performance of the destination recorded in the early 2000s or about 500,000 cruise passengers,” concludes the optimist our interlocutor.

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