Essaouira, Morocco’s “city of wind” with a UNESCO World Heritage medina, received 15 percent more tourists in the first 10 months of 2018 than in the same period in 2017.
By Mohamed Hikal
Rabat – Essaouira’s major hotels and classified establishments recorded an occupancy rate of 100 percent over New Year’s Eve, a positive finale to a promising year for tourism in the coastal city.
Overnight stays increased by 10 percent and the total number of visitors rose by 15 percent during the first ten months of 2018 compared to the same period in 2017, according to the Provincial Delegation of Tourism.
The president of Essaouira’s Provincial Council for Tourism, Redouan Khan, said the influx of European tourists was comforting and Essaouira has become a top tourist destination.
Khan expressed his appreciation for the tourism sector’s efforts to make Essaouira a clean, safe, and welcoming environment and offer services offered to visitors.
The city’s weather, proximity to Europe, its people’s openness, and the richness of its cultural heritage have all made Essaouira a perfect venue for art and culture events. Every year, Essaouira hosts multiple festivals, including the Gnaoua World Music Festival in June.
The “city of wind” is perfect for surfing, and visitors can spend quality time fishing or practicing their favorite water sports. For shopping fans, the souks in the medina (old city), a UNESCO World Heritage site, offer a variety of souvenirs and finely crafted traditional items.
A number of organizations have worked to improve tourism in Essaouira, including the Ministry of Tourism, the National Office of Airports (ONDA), and the Essaouira Mogador Association.
According to Khan, the council has doubled its efforts to launch direct flights linking Essaouira to London, Madrid, and Barcelona.
The council is also planning to secure a flight between Essaouira and the nearby Canary Islands, which Khan says would guarantee more tourists every year.
Built 20 years ago, Essaouira’s Mogador International Airport has increased its annual passenger traffic from 26,000 in 2007 to 95,000 passengers in 2018. The figure has increased by approximately 12 percent every year, according to the National Office of Airports (ONDA).
Mogador Airport is Morocco’s 11th busiest and serves 24 different destinations every week.
On December 26, the airport celebrated the arrival of its 100,000th traveler from Bordeaux, France.
In another effort to enhance Essaouira, King Mohammed VI chaired a signing ceremony on October 22, 2018, for restoration programs of the medina in Essaouira. The government allocated MAD 300 million to restore Essaouira’s medina.