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Tourism: Marrakech, a case to follow in Africa

This is an exponential performance that recorded by Marrakech over the past three years. It has even become a case study, not only for Morocco, but also for Africa.

The city has grown from 1.8 million tourists in 2015 to 2.6 million in 2018 in terms of arrivals. Overnights also improved and reached the 8.6 million mark with a 30% increase in 3 years and finally the targets on average occupancy rates were reached.

The comparison over a longer period (10 years) indicates a change of 63% in terms of arrivals and 56% in terms of nights and 12 points more for the occupancy rate. Another achievement over the past three years is the average length of stay, which has increased by one night, or even two for the French and British markets. We expected a positive evolution after the 2015 crisis, but not this explosion.

Marrakech has regained the upper hand and fully benefited from favorable tourism conditions and muscular demand for tourism from many traditional and emerging markets. “We must be pleased with the performances, but we are not yet at the level of the final objectives. And that’s why we continue to look for ideas to accelerate growth,” insists Hamid Bentahar, president of the Regional Tourism Council of Marrakech.

Today, the challenge of Marrakech is sustainability. Especially since tourism is the safest sector in the world, and the economic activity that has for years sustained growth ranging between 3.5 and 5% per year. “But it’s the way we manage that makes it cyclical.” It is in times of improvement that the actors and local authorities must mobilize to sow the seeds of the next years, insists Bentahar.

For the first three months of 2019, the indicators are all green and the outlook for the rest of the year is just as good even during the month of Ramadan.

In 2018, the city recorded a rise of 10% in terms of arrivals and 15% for overnight stays. The indicators were green for all the issuing markets, but the largest increases were recorded in the Spanish and German markets, with 49% and 15% respectively.

For Hamid Bentahar, Marrakech would have done much more on the German market if the means of promotion were more important. “It’s also frustrating to see our performance on the German market as ridiculous given the proximity of this country, its size (2nd after China), and the quality of our services.” Especially since on the plane, we jostle at the gate. If Marrakech performs these last three years, it is thanks to a sustained effort on the part of its actors for the quality of the product, for the embellishment of its arteries … and especially to reinforce the air with the injection of 50 additional flights in 2018 and 26 new flights from 13 European countries are scheduled for 2019.

When we know that the air is the sinews of the war, the opening of new services allows to further develop the destination. Today, the Marrakech-Menara airport hosts nearly 496 flights a week that connect the city to all the world’s airports. Tourism professionals are hoping for 130 more flights.

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