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Morocco Tourism shows strength during tough world events

Morocco Tourism shows strength during tough world events

Morocco Tourism Minister says anxiety-producing global environment is feeding and influencing the behavior of tourists.

The Board of Directors of the Moroccan National Tourism Office (MNTO) held a council meeting over the summer this year in Rabat under the chairmanship of Mr. Lahcen Haddad, Minister of Tourism. During this meeting, all the achievements of 2015 and the end performance review in May of 2016, as well as the main projects for the coming months were in turn examined by the Council members.

In introducing this information to the Board, Minister Haddad focused on the difficult geopolitical and security environment which the tourism sector is facing, explaining that this anxiety-producing environment is feeding and influencing the behavior of tourists.

The Tourism Minister recalled all the efforts the MNTO has taken during these past years to strengthen the brand image of the destination, to capitalize on the differentiating attributes of the Morocco brand, and to accelerate the ambitious process of diversification.

Mr. Haddad highlighted the resilience of Morocco as a destination in spite of unfavorable factors, stating that 2015 had almost the same number of arrivals at border posts to -1% compared to 2014 for a total of 10.2 million tourists. Revenues recorded a slight decrease – 1.4%, reaching 58.6 billion dirhams. This performance is largely explained by the decline of -5% from the French market, which was targeted by a series of terrorist attacks on its territory, causing travel to stumble. Sub-Saharan Africa (+ 4%), the UK (+ 5%), Germany (8), the Gulf States (12), Brazil (16), and China (+ 12%) were the main growth drivers during 2015.

The Director General of the agency presented a summary of actions taken by the office of teams that have helped maintain the attractiveness of the Morocco brand, including diversification of markets, strengthening of air connectivity, and digital policy partnerships with distribution and communication operations, as well as the Morocco Kingdom Pavilion at events in Abu Dhabi, Paris, and Abidjan, to name a few.

In the first half of 2016, the geopolitical situation unfortunately continued to deteriorate, particularly in the French market due to terroristic events that took place in cities such as Nice and Rouen. In late May of 2016, the destination recorded a decrease in arrivals at -1.16% of border crossings and a significant revenue growth of + 6.4%. Compared to key competitive tourist destinations in the Mediterranean basin which experienced significant declines ranging from -30% to -50% this was actually not as bad as could have been anticipated.

In terms of domestic tourism, Morocco recorded an average annual growth rate of overnight stays by 6%, thanks to the efforts of the Ministry of Tourism and stakeholders for the development of the domestic market, particularly through the supply stations and the establishment of regionalized school holidays.

For the second quarter of 2016, to deal with this exceptional situation linked to the consequences of the attacks in the main market of Europe, the council expressed the need to equip the ONMT with a special budget. This would enable the accelerated pace of shares, particularly in press trips, relocation TV shows, organizing large-scale events in order to strengthen destination branding, the launch of advertising campaigns to increase brand awareness, and enhancing the offer of destination Morocco. These means were used to accelerate the diversification of markets such as China, Russia, the Gulf States, Scandinavia, and Africa.

The holding of COP 22 in Morocco in November of this year will be a highlight for the destination. The MNTO will contribute to this opportunity through the use of national actors who will for example help to realize the creation of an outstanding film. The fundamentals of promoting destination Morocco and the confidence of the sector are showing promising growth as demonstrated by new air services taking shape for November 2016.

The desirability of implementing a Moroccan platform distribution abroad; the launch of a call for expressions of interest from airlines to bases in Marrakech, Agadir, Fez and Tangiers; and a new strategy for the regions will continue to be carried out by the Moroccan Tourism Ministry.

The Board has stressed the importance of the need to equip the ONMT with adequate financial resources in accordance with what must be achieved in connection with the 2020 vision during the shortest possible time. And Mr. Haddad has recommended the launch of a recruitment policy both qualitative and ambitious in order to provide the necessary human resources to achieve these tourism goals.

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