By Ahmad Azizi
By Ahmad Azizi
Morocco World News/ MAP
London, June 16, 2011
In its 2011 report about the economic, social and political situation in Morocco (The Report, Morocco 2011: http://www.oxfordbusinessgroup.com/product/report/report-morocco-2011 ), the London-based Oxford Business group outlines the steady gains achieved by Morocco in the tourism sector over the past decade.
After a strong growth in 2010, figures for early 2011 point to another bumper year for Morocco’s tourism, said the Oxford Business Group (OBG).
Confidence remains high despite the April bombing of a café in Marrakech, the effect of which appears to have been limited and ongoing regional instability. The government continues to roll out ambitious plans for the decade ahead, said the think-tank in a report.
Visitor numbers have increased every year in the past decade, and tourist arrivals to Morocco reached 9.3 million for the year as a whole in 2010, up a strong 11.5% from the 2009 figures of 8.34m, said the group. The reports adds that nights spent in the country were also well up, by 11% year-on-year (y-o-y), as were room occupation rates, from 41 pc in 2009 to 44 pc last year.
The bottom-line indicator for the sector, tourism receipts, grew by a healthy 6% on the previous year, to Dh56.2bn, although it is worth pointing out that revenues declined in 2009 amidst the lingering effects of the global economic slowdown, notes OBG.
This year is also off to a strong start, with all major indicators again showing healthy growth, added the source, noting that despite a dip in March, tourist arrivals increased 6 pc y-o-y in the first quarter of 2011, to 1.83 million.
Arrivals in April were up 18 pc y-o-y, to 784,000. Nights spent in hotels in the first quarter also grew, from 3.76m in first-quarter 2010 to 4.01m in first-quarter 2011, a y-o-y rise of 7%, which helped boost occupancy rates by two percentage points, to 41%.
Total tourism receipts for January, February and March increased by 6.7% y-o-y, to Dh11.1bn.
French tour operators also reported little in the way of cancellations following the bombing. Local business representatives regard this number as relatively small and encouraging, having feared a significantly worse effect.
The report underscores also that since the “the launch of tourism strategy Vision 2010 in 2001, tourist arrivals have more than doubled. Total bed capacity has increased 70% in the past decade, reaching 164,612 in 2009”.
This increase of arrivals to Morocco has been fostered after the open-sky agreement with the EU went into force in 2005, as the number of international connections has increased from 10 to about 40 since then.
The report highlights also the plans that are underway to overhaul infrastructure in Fez, Casablanca and Agadir in order to increase their competitiveness as tourism destinations.
Editing by Benjamin Villanti.