Workers in the sector expect that this decision will significantly reduce the severity of the recession, which a group of professionals suffer at the national level in general, and it is expected that the sector will regain part of the vitality and activity that it lost a long time ago.
On Monday, February 7, Morocco reopened its airspace to international passenger flights after a closure of more than two months to combat the spread of the Omicron mutant, in a step that is also hoped to save the tourism sector, which recorded heavy losses due to the health crisis.
A “certain” recovery, but after months
According to the expert in the field of tourism, Zubair Bouhout, opening the atmosphere will revive the tourism sector in Morocco, given that the Kingdom relies heavily on international tourism, as figures indicate that seventy percent of overnight stays in hotels and accommodation establishments come from international tourism.
In this context, the researcher confirmed to “Sky News Arabia” that international tourism revives Morocco’s treasury by about eighty billion dirhams annually, which is equivalent to 8.5 billion dollars. Therefore, the decision to open the airspace is very important, after about two years of the crisis that exhausted the tourism sector and made it lose about 80% of its revenues during 2020, and close to 72% in 2021.
Bouhout also explained that tourism professionals are waiting for an easing of the precautionary measures imposed by the authorities in order to enter the national territory, stressing that destinations competing with Morocco have eased the conditions for entry, which requires that Rabat ease the entry procedures for you that do not have a negative impact on the turnout of foreign tourists to the destination. Moroccan.
The expert in the field of tourism stated that, thanks to its geographical location, Morocco has great attractiveness, especially for European countries. In his speech, he said, “Certainly, the tourism sector is on the cusp of a recovery, but to be realistic, the real recovery will not take place before next April, especially after the month of Ramadan, because the volume of scheduled flights until now is still weak.”
In Zubair Bouhout’s view, what should be focused on now is to intensify field visits to the National Tourism Office and tourist operators in order to restore confidence and sign agreements with major tourism agencies, in order for the latter to commit to marketing a large volume of tourist nights for the benefit of Morocco, during the coming summer, as well as with global airlines.
He said that Morocco should make a strong return to the international tourism fairs that will be launched from March, in order to publicize its efforts in combating the spread of the epidemic and the advanced numbers that have been recorded with regard to vaccination against the Corona epidemic.
Significant decline in tourism income
For his part, the distinguished professor in economics at higher technical education, Al-Hussein Al-Farwah, commented on the opening of the airspace after its closure for more than two months, saying, “The return of movement to the Kingdom’s airports would revive Moroccan tourism, but gradually, with the continuation of precautionary measures to confront the pandemic and continuing to suspend flights. For those traveling through the sea crossings, it will take some time.”
The spokesman confirmed in a statement to “Sky News Arabia” that the government’s emergency plan to revive the tourism sector, for which a financial envelope of two billion dirhams (about 210 million dollars) was monitored, part of which is direct financial support to the hotel sector, will contribute significantly to giving a new breath to the activity. Tourism, although this support does not include the various value chain activities in the sector.
The expert in the economy pointed out that the Moroccan tourism sector contributes seven percent to the gross domestic product and directly occupies five percent of the active population, meaning that it provides 550 thousand direct jobs, according to the data of the Moroccan National Tourism Office for the year 2019.
Al-Farwah added, “Because of the pandemic, travel income decreased from 78.7 billion dirhams in 2019 to only 34.3 billion dirhams last year, according to the exchange office, with the number of incoming tourists declining by 79 percent and the number of overnight stays registered in tourist accommodation institutions significantly.”
He stressed that reviving the sector needs necessary steps, including the structural, such as governance, rehabilitation of human capital, provision of adequate financing and diversification of the tourism offer.
closed sea borders
Despite the decision to open the air borders, the Moroccan authorities preferred to wait before opening sea flights.
The Ministry of Transport and Logistics, through its Maritime and Commercial Navigation Directorate, decided to postpone the date for the resumption of cruises, contenting itself with emphasizing the continuity of the closure in the face of flights until later notice due to the epidemiological situation in the world.
The decision to continue closing the Directorate of Maritime and Commercial Navigation of Moroccan Ports in the face of trips applies to international means of transport, including trucks for transporting goods and transporting consignments, according to the Directorate’s communiqué.