The latest predictions come after the Association for the Hotel Industry recorded 10,000 cancellations in Marrakech alone since the start of the outbreak.
Rabat – As the numbers of confirmed novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, cases grow in Africa, the Moroccan Ministry of Tourism and the national airline Royal Air Maroc (RAM) predict mass cancellations in March.
The crisis cell at the north African country’s tourism ministry predicts the loss of at least 100,000 tourists in March alone, Media24 reported quoting a source within the ministry.
Based on flight and hotel cancellations since Morocco confirmed its first case of the coronavirus on Monday, March 2, both the crisis cell and RAM predict a severe downturn for the tourism sector.
A source at RAM told Media24: “We were on an upward trend with very strong double-digit growth in bookings compared to 2019 and today, our activity is, unfortunately, almost falling back to stability compared to the previous year.”
Although they could not give definitive statistics, the source was clear that, if the situation continues, it will have a detrimental effect on the company’s turnover. “What is certain is that reservations are fewer and that we are behind schedule in our business plan,” the source added.
The RAM official told Media24 they are doing everything possible to stabilize the situation, however “the impact on the turnover and on the cash of the company will be more than serious.”
Meanwhile, a source at the ministry of tourism’s crisis cell, who wished to remain anonymous, told Medias24 the situation is serious, but warned against spreading panic.
“The ministry does not want to communicate the official line for the moment so as not to reinforce the panic that is starting to set in among hoteliers in particular,” the crisis cell source said.
March 2020 will be “terrible” for hotel owners and people in the service industry, the source confirmed.
The latest figures are not positive, and the ministry predicts a downturn of at least 100,000 tourists in the coming month.
The source confirmed that hotels in Marrakech are faced with over 10,000 cancellations for the coming month, with the city facing the worst numbers since 2017.
“If a remedy for the coronavirus is not found very quickly, it is already a given that we will lose several hundred thousand arrivals and at least one million overnight stays,” the source warned.
Morocco confirmed its second case of the virus on March 4. The latest patient is an elderly woman with underlying health issues who contracted the virus in Italy. She remains in a critical condition in hospital in Casablanca.
The virus has killed more than 3,000 people so far, with the vast majority of fatalities in China. Globally, more than 95,000 patients have tested positive for COVID-19.