Rabat – As an essential source of job opportunities and inclusive development, tourism is a key economic activity in Morocco, Zoubir Bouhoute, Director of Local Tourism Office (CRT) in Ouarzazate told Morocco World News, on the sidelines of the International Symposium on Tourism held on Wednesday in Rabat.
MWN chatted with Bouhoute about Morocco’s tourism strategy, the challenges facing the sector, the tourism potential in Ouarzazate, and the city’s readiness to host games of the 2026 World Cup.
Speaking about the event, Bouhoute said that the symposium was organized to underscore the importance of the sector, emphasizing that tourism serves as a pillar of the national economy.
Tourism, a Pillar of Morocco’s Economic Growth
“The tourism sector plays an important role in promoting tourist-hub areas in Morocco, spreading the culture, values, and history of each region,” said the chief of Ouarzazate’s CRT.
He emphasized that international tourists can also promote Morocco’s tourism sector, adding that those visitors are “ambassadors” who can positively encourage their friends and family to visit Morocco if provincial tourist offices “served them well.”
According to Bouhoute, the sector served as a backup plan to fix trade imbalances that the country has been facing over the years.
Tourism in Morocco provides MAD 70 billion annually, an income that contributes to creating a balance and avoiding trade deficit.
He added that the country would be able to avoid all economic obstacles if it could further develop this sector, stressing the necessity of innovative digital governing solutions.
Bouhoute noted that the tourism world has been witnessing an increasing shift towards digitalization: “Travelers now rely on the internet to book their flights and hotels. They are no longer relying on traditional procedures, like travel agencies.”
Regarding challenges facing the sector, the tourism expert emphasizing that the country still has work to do in order to overcome these challenges. He said that the sector is connected to infrastructure, transport, and other economic activities. Therefore, the government needs to enhance efforts to provide the sector with the assets it needs to achieve more development.
He added that government support is essential, adding that the cabinet needs to cooperate in the promotion process.
“Despite the proximity between Morocco and Europe, there is a lack of air transport, linking between Morocco’s regions and European countries.” Bouhoute added that airline companies should also contribute to the promotion of tourism in Morocco by incentivizing travel offers.
Looking forward, he believes Morocco’s provincial offices for tourism will need to devise creative and innovative strategies to attract more tourists, including further digitalization and advertising.
Ouarzazate is Ready to Host 2026 World Cup Games
Bouhoute noted that the country has all the necessary assets to host the massive tournament.
The tourism director the 2026 tournament would help in the development Ouarzazate, greatly increasing the number of tourists to the region.
In reality, all regions of the country would benefit from important infrastructure projects, and the construction of these projects would create job opportunities throughout the country. Morocco must now up its efforts to increase its chances to host the tournament, according to Bouhoute.
Speaking about the readiness of Ouarzazate, the CRT director said that the proposal to organize some of the 2026 World Cup games in Ouarzazate would have a positive impact.
Though Bouhoute mentioned that the city could accommodate 3000 people in various hotels, he believes the city must expand its investments to properly mobilize for such a huge number of tourists. But these investments, too, would create more employment opportunities.
Business Challenges in Ouarzazate
Despite its excellent diversity, the city has experienced difficulties attracting investors. In response the Ouarzazate tourism director said that his office is visualizing a digitalization strategy that would contribute to the development of the region.This could serve as an incentive to business travelers and investors.
Hospitality, good governance and tourism management are also essential to the success of tourism sector, he added.
Ouarzazate’s Faithful Tourists
The CPT director also shared some of Ouarzazate’s tourism statistics with MWN. Moroccan nationals are taking the lead in Ouarzazate’s tourism, followed by French tourists.
In January, Maghreb Arab Press (MAP) reported that the French tourism indicated the highest growth, representing 11.95 percent of total arrivals in Ouarzazate.
French visitors from January to November 2017 reached 29,195 tourists, up from 22,220 in 2016.
Bouhoute added that the Spanish visitors follow the French, though the city of Ouarzazate has seen an increase in Chinese tourists in recent years, according to the CPT’s director, who added that the Chinese market recorded “spectacular performances in 2017, following the removal of visa requirements for Chinese tourists.