Rabat - Morocco registered encouraging results in the tourism sector over the first half of 2017, with increases of 9 percent in arrivals, 18 percent in overstays and 40 percent in occupancy rates. These figures, however, could not curb the decline in foreign currency earnings.
Rabat – Morocco registered encouraging results in the tourism sector over the first half of 2017, with increases of 9 percent in arrivals, 18 percent in overstays and 40 percent in occupancy rates. These figures, however, could not curb the decline in foreign currency earnings.
The kingdom is finally attracting back its tourists, but the latter are spending less. Despite the increase in tourist arrivals in Morocco at the end of the first half of 2017, the revenue generated does not follow, down 0.5 percent according to the Exchange Office.
A total of 4.6 million tourists visited Morocco between January and June 2017, an increase of 9 percent compared to the same period in 2016, according to the Ministry of Tourism’s report on Moroccan tourism statistics for the first half of 2017.
For the ministry, the country is doing well despite of a difficult regional situation, anticipating 11 million tourists by the end of the year.
The number of foreign tourists (TES) increased by 14 percent, while arrivals of Moroccans residing abroad (MRE) increased by 3 percent, the same source said. The main issuing markets performed well, particularly Germany with a 12 percent increase, Spain with 7 percent, and Holland with 8 percent.
Emerging tourist markets continue to maintain their upward trend. China in particular recorded an all time high of a 565 percent increase, while Japan, South Korea, the United States, and Brazil posted percent increases of 46, 42, 27 and 41, respectively.
Overnight stays are also growing. Total nights spent in registered accommodation establishments increased by 18 percent during the first six months of 2017, with 22 percent for non-resident tourists and 8 percent for residents.
The two touristic hubs Marrakech and Agadir alone accounted for 60 percent of total overnight stays by the end of June, the ministry said, pointing out that these two cities showed increases of 19 percent and 18 percent, respectively. Other destinations also posted good performances, particularly the cities of Fez and Tangier, with increases of 38 percent and 29 percent respectively.
While these results promise a good future for the sector, this improvement in Morocco’s destination did not mean increased revenue generated by non-residents’ tourist activity, namely foreign exchange earning. The latter amounted to MAD 26.38 billion at the end of June 2017, compared to MAD 26.47 billion a year earlier, a decrease of 0.5 percent.
While the Ministry of Tourism relayed on statistic after another regarding to the last six months’ activity, it gave no explanations for the numbers.
Why was this sharp rise in arrivals accompanied by lower revenues?
According to Ahmed Azami, a Riyad owner in Fes, the rise in the new middle-class tourists market is a fundamental factor. For Azami, there has been a decline in well-off, well-heeled tourists that have a taste for expensive luxury.
In recent years, the rise in the world’s middle-class population has changed the profile of the international traveler. They may not be super-rich but can set aside enough to travel comfortably and even alone. The owner explains how the clientele switched to students and young backpackers, that are well informed about local prices.
“Social media and travel forums offer detailed information for travelers, so the risk of scam is practically none existent,” explains Azami.
The decline in quality tourist services is another factor. “Well-off tourists have moved to other tourist destination, since they do not find the adequate accommodations to their expensive taste.”
For Hicham Chaker, a licensed international tour guide, the reason of the decline of earnings could be attributed to issues in “transport, tour guides, hotels, artisans and promotion.”
“Artisans do not follow world trends, they offer the same products since the 1990’s,” explains Chaker, adding that “people’s lifestyle and global fashion have drastically changed since then; while some tourists are still attracted by traditional handicrafts, others are looking for more trendy products.”
Both Azami and Chaker point to the lack of a promotional vision to appeal to tourists. “Bottom line, it is bad management,” concludes Azami, and for both entrepreneurs, the National Tourism Office and the Ministry are to blame.
The Ministry of Tourism officials contacted by Morocco World News did not respond to requests for comments.