Home Economy Morocco Needs to Rethink Tourism Policy, Says Miriem Bensaleh-Chaqroun

Morocco Needs to Rethink Tourism Policy, Says Miriem Bensaleh-Chaqroun

Miriem Bensalah Chaqroun

Rabat – Miriem Bensaleh-Chaqroun, who is the acting chair of the General Confederation of Moroccan Enterprises (CGEM), criticized Morocco’s tourism industry for its lack of effectiveness and efficiency in satisfying the growing demands of the sector.

She pointed out that Morocco’s tourism is “incoherent” and “dysfunctional,” elaborating that the sector is in desperate need of a “new business model” to resolves some its inconsistencies and adopt new ways of dealing with challenges.

Mrs. Bensaleh-Chaqroun made her remarks during an international symposium on tourism organized by the Council for Development and Solidarity (CDS), an independent think tank working in collaboration with the CGEM.

Speaking at the symposium, the chair-woman of CGEM said that measures of “good governance and disintermediation” needed to be implemented in a sector struggling to rise up to the “challenges of the digital world.” She called for more involvement from the government, saying that an industry that employs 500,000 needs to be given all the necessary means to “tackle its numerous incoherencies and structural fragilities.”

Of the structural problems ailing Morocco’s tourism industry, Mrs. Bensaleh-Chaqroun especially berated the “overcapacity in hotels” and other tourism-related facilities; “managerial inconsistencies in handling the growing demand,” and the existence of “neglected destinations.”

“While Marrakech is overcrowded with more 71,000 hotel beds, Casablanca cannot even host 5,000 visitors. And although we have good airport connectivity with services from and to 63 countries and 112 airports, some destinations like Ouarzazate are ignored,” she said, adding that Morocco is still promoting and focusing on tourist trails or sightseeing tours whereas more and more customers are shifting to short city-breaks.

But for all her concerns about the structural failures and managerial mishaps of Morocco’s tourism, Mrs. Bensaleh-Chaqroun is hopeful about the sector’s prospects. “Morocco attracts over 11 million visitors annually, and we are since 2013 the first destination for tourism in Africa. So the prospects for 2018 are rosy,” she said.

Speaking about her idea of a “new business model to further promote and develop the sector,” the businesswoman proposed the creation of specialized, tourism-focused research centers as well as tourism-centered foundations to ensure public debates on the various impacts (social, ecological, economic, psychological, etc.) that tourism can have on society at large.

Other speakers at the symposium also endorsed the idea of a more responsive and digitized tourism industry. They also underlined the “transversal role” of tourism in a country’s economy, saying that the sector is “a lever for strong and inclusive development.”

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