The WB Maghreb director said that Morocco has a promising natural potential to promote eco-tourism.
Rabat – The director of the Maghreb department at the World Bank (WB), Jesko Hentschel, strongly believes that the post-COVID-19 economic recovery represents an opportunity for Morocco to conquer additional markets.
“The Kingdom is very close to a very large market, that of the European Union. It has very good products, either in the manufacturing or agricultural sector, which can use this revival to capture additional markets as well,” stressed Hentschel as quoted by state-run Maghreb Arab Press (MAP).
The WB Maghreb director made the remarks during a virtual meeting with the press, dedicated to the presentation of plans for the post-COVID phase and the Bank’s support to Morocco.
Highlighting the “enormous and fantastic natural capital” that the country boasts, the official noted that the economic revival also poses an opportunity to transform the national tourism sector into one that is “green and ecological.”
Morocco has made significant investments in the green tourism sector, which has steadily gained popularity in recent years. In December 2010, Morocco launched its “2020 Vision” for developing the tourism industry in line with principles of sustainable development. Attention to Morocco’s eco-tourism offerings grew in the lead-up to the 2016 UN Climate Change Conference (COP22), hosted in Marrakech.
In its media coverage of the event, French television channel TF1 spotlighted Berber Farm, located 15 minutes downtown Marrakech. The farm owners turned it into an environment-friendly hotel to contribute to the development of eco-tourism in Morocco.
The country has also established a ranking system for green hotels that respect environmental standards.
Reviving the tourism sector is an instrumental step to reinvigorate the Moroccan economy, which is suffering the impact of COVID-19, as the sector accounts for 11% of Morocco’s GDP, according to the National Tourism Confederation (CNT).
The CNT predicts a 39% drop in the number of tourists visiting Morocco between 2020 and 2022, which would cost the country $13.85 billion in revenue losses.
As the world is still experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases and with the continued closure of its borders, Morocco is now pivoting to a focus on promoting domestic tourism for a sustainable economic resumption.
Hentschel went on to say that the economic recovery and trade flows will be different, stressing the need for a restructuring of value chains, which would present very important opportunities for Morocco.
Commending Morocco’s proactive response to the COVID-19 outbreak, Hentschel stressed that the WB has financially supported the country during the crisis with the allocation of a $275 loan to support development policies for disaster risk management, with a provision to allow some funding to go to immediate aid.
On Monday, June 22, the Bank’s Board of Executive Directors also approved an additional $500 million program to support the government’s various actions to cope with the crisis and for an efficient economic recovery.