• Morocco “Authenticity, diversity, quality”

Morocco “Authenticity, diversity, quality”

According to the World Tourism Organization, there have been more than 1.8 billion tourists and the flows will double by 2030, a real opportunity to seize for the Moroccan economy. The establishment of an attractive tourist product is required to differentiate and singularize Morocco’s offer. Major projects are launched, others are in the pipe …

By Dounia Ben Mohamed

 

“Authenticity, diversity, quality and sustainability.., these were the slogans of Lahcen Haddad, Moroccan tourism minister until last February. And it he led his roadmap to confirm the Moroccan tourist destination around these notions. “At a time of strong tourist competition and facing increasingly-demanding tourists, it is important to make a difference. Morocco has decided to embed its development around core values ​​that are today a real competitive advantage for our country: authenticity, diversity, quality and sustainability,” he explained. “Today, satisfying is no longer enough, we must dream and delight the tourists. Thus, Morocco has identified what makes each destination singular and what differentiates it from the others. Moroccan tourism product engineers have carefully worked to identify, value and create a coherent and attractive offer to distinguish each destination and maximize the visitor’s experience. At the crossroads of the tourist demand and resources of the host territory, the development of the tourism product follows the logic of development specific to each territory”. And the mission of developing this strategy was entrusted to the Moroccan Tourist Engineering Company (Smit) which, explains its director, Imad Barraka, “is in charge of shaping the national tourism environment while extending the socio-economic benefits to all links in the value chain of the sector and ensuring a national territorial equity”, according to an activity not yet very developed in Africa, tourism engineering.

Partnerships between investors and local authorities for the promotion of territories

In close collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism, Smit also offers a platform to support and assist investors and local authorities through the implementation of a set of actions for resource attraction capacity building. “We recently launched a pioneering program, the result of a fruitful partnership between various government departments and local stakeholders, for diversified tourist product and sustained tourism development”, continues the director. The idea of ​​this program is to allow tourists to discover and appreciate natural beauty, history, culture and lifestyle and consume local products. Thus, and according to his aspirations, a tourist may choose a theme circuit linking several components: sites and monuments, tourist entertainments, activities to develop local products with reception and information facilities. Therefore, we mobilized all partners around programs to create a seed fund likely to finance infrastructure, not supported by the private sector, which are crucial for more attractive tourist territories. 

“Tourism is crucial for sustainable and reliable economic development”

This is, indeed, the challenge: if African States, aware of the socio-economic impact of tourism, have adopted ambitious policies, they now have to attract investors. Again, Morocco, which is the hub of international investors in Africa, is doing well. “Tourism is a sustainable and reliable vehicle for economic development, but also a real source of savings in foreign exchange – and an effective way to improve the living conditions of local populations by boosting economic activities in remote areas. Africa now has enormous potential for tourism development, says Lahcen Haddad. Several investment funds have been created to enable the development of high value-added tourism ecosystems. The challenge for the next five years is to enrich and diversify the tourist offer in the 8 territories, strongly impacting on the tourist performance of destinations, profitability prospects of tourist institutions and by the same the our country’s attractiveness for tourist investments. Similarly to the product development, we have to diversify our issuing markets to make return on tourist investment. Several support mechanisms will also be established (bonuses, taxation, etc.) to attract more investors.” 

Target: 20 million tourists per year by 2020

Morocco aims to welcome 20 million tourists per year by 2020. Already in 2015, the kingdom received 10 million tourists. But to double this figure in the next three years, it will have to strengthen competitiveness of the destination, which is highly competitive et the international level. As evidence, the foreign direct investment of the tourism sector, although rising sharply between 2012 and 2014, has since been declining. “Despite very difficult international crisis, we have recorded good performances as evidenced by the figures: as of today and mid-way of the targets, the tourism capacity committed is 233 000 beds, or 79% of the target. The tourism capacity created between 2011 and 2015 is more than 55,000 beds – says Imad Barraka – diversification is thus our spearhead”. 

First African tourist destination

Eco-tourism, seaside, business or high-end tourism, Morocco provides more products, and it works. Morocco has once again been ranked the top tourist destination in Africa in 2016, for the second consecutive year, dethroning South Africa. And more than ever, the continental target is at the heart of Moroccan tourism policy. The middle class explodes; it is a niche to seize…


 

Author: Dounia Ben Mohamed // Photo: City of Fes, Morocco © Tourist Office of Morocco

 

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