COVID-19: Tourism, most badly hit sector in Morocco with losses worth billions

The Moroccan National Confederation of Tourism has sounded the alarm. The tourism sector has been severely affected by the coronavirus pandemic and the lockdown it entailed worldwide.

The tourism sector and all the activities that shape its value chain, i.e. hotels, restaurants, travel agencies and distribution networks, ground transportation and car rentals, event industry and all related professions, have almost all come to a halt since mid-March, when the country decided to close all international air, land, and maritime routes.

The shutdown concerns 3,500 tourist accommodation companies, 500 tourist catering companies, 1,450 travel agencies, 1,500 tourist transport companies and 1,500 car rental companies, the confederation said.

According to the National Confederation of Tourism (CNT), the sector could suffer a drop of up to 39% in the number of tourists, with losses estimated at billions of DH.

If Morocco does not urgently adopt a recovery plan to save its tourism sector, the country will lose over $13.85 billion (MAD 138 billion) between 2020 and 2022 due to the COVID-19 crisis, the CNT said in a study made public Wednesday.

The CNT suggested in this vein a recovery plan revolving around three main axes: Maintaining the production chain, maintaining jobs, and maintaining competitiveness.

The plan aims to preserve Morocco’s touristic ecosystem by helping tourist accommodations minimize their costs to avoid bankruptcy, and to preserve the country’s skilled manpower in the tourism sector.

The strategy also suggests allocating a budget to promote Morocco’s attractiveness and help the country preserve its competitiveness in the global tourism market.

This budget would amount, according to the CNT, to about $172 million, of which $120.4 million will go to preserve Moroccan tourism and $50.2 million to reposition the kingdom on the global market.

According to the CNT’s prediction, the plan could help reduce the sector’s losses by over $4.61 billion in the coming two years.

The CNT predicts the current situation will continue until December 2020 and tourism will start recovering gradually by April 2021.

Tourism is the second-largest contributor to Morocco’s economy, accounting for 11% of GDP. The tourism industry provides 750,000 direct and more than 2.5 million indirect jobs. Besides, the industry participates in the development of several other economic sectors such as construction, agriculture, agro-industry, services, etc.

Supporting the sector is, therefore, of crucial importance, the confederation argues.

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