Morocco’s efforts to tap into new tourism markets yielded fruitful results helping the country boost tourist arrivals with approximately 3 million visitors in the first four months of 2017, that is a 10% rise compared to the same period last year, said the Oxford Business Group (OBG).
“The sector performed strongly across nearly all segments, with only cruise-ship arrivals slipping in the first quarter of 2017,” the OBG underscored in a report, noting that this generally positive performance comes at a time when security concerns and political instability continue to take their toll on several of other traditionally popular destinations in the MENA region.
The report cites Mohamed Sajid, the Moroccan tourism minister, who said the tourist sector is on course of expanding by a forecasted 5.5% in 2017, with overall visitor numbers reaching 10.9m. Revenue is expected to hit $6.5bn, up from $6.4bn in 2016, the OBG added.
The report also sheds light on Morocco’s incentives to attract Chinese tourists by relaxing entry requirements for visitors, recalling that Morocco took the step of exempting Chinese nationals from visa requirements at the beginning of June 2016.
The visa exemption initiative, announced during King Mohammed VI’s visit to China in 2016, resulted in a three-fold increase of arrivals from China compared to 2015.
“Growth is expected to continue through 2017, with 100,000 Chinese tourists forecast to visit Morocco throughout the year, up from 42,000 in 2016,” states the OBG.
The OBG also highlights the improvement of Morocco’s air connectivity with China, notably after the Office National Marocain du Tourisme (ONMT), established partnerships with three key international airlines – Etihad Airways, Turkish Airlines and Air France – with a view to increasing the number of regular flights connecting Chinese cities with Morocco’s prime tourist destinations.
On the other hand, the OBG notes that visitor numbers from other key markets also increased over the first four months of 2017. Thus the number of tourists grew from the US by 47%, Spain (26%), Germany (22%), Belgium (21%) and Italy (16%).
“A stable and secure political environment, combined with incentives and infrastructural development, has helped Morocco to create an attractive investment climate, resulting in a raft of new hotel projects,” the report highlighted