Morocco is still under a state of emergency but the government eased travel restrictions as part of plans to revive tourism.
Rabat – The first group of French tourists arrived in Morocco on Saturday at the Marrakech-Menara airport after the country eased travel restrictions to revive Morocco’s tourism.
The arrival of the French tourists in Marrakech, estimated at 160 people, is part of Morocco’s efforts to gradually relaunch national tourism after months of suspended international air, land, and sea travel due to COVID-19.
Royal Air Maroc operated the flight.
Videos online show Marrakech’s popular Jemaa el-Fnaa square vivid with the beats of gnawa music.
The square had been relatively empty since March after Morocco declared a state of emergency to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Since July 15, Morocco’s government has eased restrictions on travel, allowing Royal Air Maroc and Air Arabia to operate special flights.
The flights have been serving Moroccans living abroad, foreign residents living in Morocco, and their families.
In September, Morocco opened borders for tourists who have reservations in hotels across the country and business people who have invitations from Moroccan companies.
Morocco’s economy experienced a major setback due to the pandemic and lockdown.
To cope with the crisis, Morocco’s government launched a set of measures to boost the economy, including tourism.
The pandemic caused Morocco’s tourism sector to incur a loss of MAD 18.2 billion ($2 billion) in the first seven months of 2020.
The number represents a decline of 44.1%.
Before the pandemic hit, the sector contributed 11% of Morocco’s GDP.
Morocco signed a project contract to revive its tourism sector, bringing public and private actors to limit the negative impacts of COVID-19.
The contract covers 21 measures to assist the sector.
A report from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) shows Morocco’s tourism sector is the fourth most impacted by the pandemic across the globe.
Tourism Minister Nadia Fettah Alaoui has remained optimistic, saying the crisis offers an opportunity to transform the sector.
She also called on all sector stakeholders and actors to adapt to new market realities due to the pandemic.