Morocco is stepping up efforts to revive its tourism sector after months of heavy losses.
Rabat – French travel and tourism operator Club Med has announced plans to build a 350-room resort in Essaouira, a city on Morocco’s Atlantic coast popular with foreign and Moroccan tourists alike.
The project falls under the Memorandum of Understanding Club Med signed on Monday with Morocco’s Ministry of Tourism, the Moroccan National Tourism Office (ONMT), and the Moroccan Society of Tourism Engineering (SMIT) to develop new projects in the North African country.
The MoU concerns three initiatives: The renovation of the Yasmina Club in Tetouan, the development of a new village in the Mogador tourist resort in Essaouira, and the extension and renovation of the Club Med village in Marrakech.
The three projects will have an overall investment of MAD 1.3 billion ($141.69 million) and should create more than 600 direct jobs, according to Morocco’s state media.
The MoU testifies to the attractiveness and competitiveness of Morocco’s business environment and demonstrates confidence investors have in the country’s tourism sector despite the COVID-19 crisis.
Club Med of Essaouira
Club Med is set to develop a new premium resort in Essaouira in partnership with pan-African investment fund Grit Real Estate Income Group for an investment of MAD 1 billion ($108.99 million).
Club Med expects the 350-room resort to open in 2024. The resort, ideal for families and couples, will include a Club Med Exclusive Collection area accessible year-round, leisure activities, and a wide range of water sports.
The French tour operator says the eco-resort will be fully integrated into its environment, offering visitors a quality tourism experience combining Essaouira’s natural, historical, and cultural heritage.
Essaouira is an active economic, tourist, and artistic hub in Morocco. Its medina, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, offers the perfect backdrop for the city’s three major music festivals that attract tourists from all over the world every year. Club Med seeks to promote the socio-cultural authenticity of the region.
The Club Med resort in Essaouira will represent the second stage of the group’s Marrakech-Essaouira circuit. The French company wants its clientele to discover the riches of Morocco. It is currently studying other destinations to establish a presence, including around Agadir and Chbika, in Tan-Tan, southern Morocco.
Club Med first established its Moroccan presence in 1963 in the northern city of Al Hoceima. Three years later, the company opened a resort in Agadir, devastated by the 1960 earthquake, at the request of King Hassan II. The resort played a key role in the development of what is now one of Morocco’s leading tourist destinations.
After the September 11 attacks disturbed the international tourism market, Morocco and Club Med signed in 2001 an agreement to strengthen the company’s position as a major tourist player on the national market. Marrakech welcomed the village La Palmeraie in 2004 and the first Club Med Exclusive Collection “Le Riad” space in 2005.
Morocco’s tourism recovery
The Club Med resort in Essaouira and the new Conrad resort coming to Rabat will hopefully contribute to Morocco’s tourism recovery.
Morocco’s tourism sector is currently experiencing similar shocks to those of 1960 and 2001 as it grapples with an unprecedented loss of visitors. The COVID-19 pandemic pushed the country to shut its borders to outsiders, and while such a decision may have reduced the scale of Morocco’s virus outbreak, it incurred steep economic losses.
The country has stepped up efforts in recent weeks to accelerate the recovery of its tourism sector.
In September, Morocco opened its borders to visa-exempt nationals with hotel reservations and business people with invitations from Moroccan companies. The country has since eased its stringent testing requirements for travelers and allowed additional airlines to operate flights in and out of the national territory.
Tourism contributes 11% of Morocco’s GDP. Although COVID-19 cases in the country are on the rise, Morocco cannot afford to keep the industry at a standstill. Its long-term approach of promoting projects such as the new Club Med resort accompany programs to ensure safe travel for international tourists in the shorter term.