Morocco Tourism Ambitions
4/28/2012 1:54 PM
In an interview with Reuters, Lahcen Haddad, Morocco's tourism minister, explained Morocco's tourism development and how Morocco is seeking airlines partners to further develop direct flights to Morocco's Airports.
While he did not dismiss the likelihood of a decline in tourist arrivals in 2012, Haddad said the impact will not be felt at the level of receipts.
"Last year, both tourist arrivals and the number of night stays declined (compared to 2010) yet receipts rose by about 4 percent. It measures the degree of receipts' resilience," Haddad said.
"2012 will be a tough year but there won't be a major drop in receipts. We may close 2012 (with receipts) at the same level we had in 2011 or with a minor increase," he said, noting that the state's 2012 budget was based on a 2-3 percent rise in receipts.
Receipts stood at 58.7 billion dirhams in 2011, a year that saw the country's current account deficit rise to 6.5 percent of the $97 billion gross domestic product GDP.L. Tourism accounts for 10 percent of GDP and directly employs 400,000.
A third of tourists visiting Morocco come from France, followed by Spain, Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom and Benelux countries.
"Seventy percent of tourist arrivals in Morocco travel independently and the majority of them stay at five-star hotels," Haddad said.
"I don't think receipts from the main European markets will decline (in 2012) because there is a segment of tourists who have not been affected by the crisis in the euro zone, the high-end market.
Morocco is focusing more of its tourism promotion on Russia, Poland, the Czech and Slovak republics, Haddad said. "These are emerging markets where the purchase power is improving and where more and more citizens can afford to travel abroad," he said.
Since 2010, flag carrier Royal Air Maroc has been adding more direct flights linking Morocco to Russia and Poland.
"We have to start charter flights from Bratislava, Prague, Warsaw and St Petersburg," said Haddad, without fixing a timeframe.
Rabat is also seeking more tourist arrivals from Scandinavian countries. "It used to be a big market for us, we are now trying to reconquer it".
Moroccan authorities are also in talks with Gulf Arab airlines establish direct flights to Moroccan airports other than Casablanca
, such as Marrakesh
"We need an important fleet (of aircraft). RAM can't do it alone, so we will need to rely on other airlines," he said, referring to Morocco's aim to almost treble tourism receipts by 2020.
"I don't think we should privatise RAM but we may always find ways to partner it with a major operator, maybe from the Gulf (Arab region)," said Haddad, who as tourism minister, is a member of RAM's board.