Moroccan Businesses and tourist guides in the Casablanca-Settat region feature prominently among the country’s sectors that suffered the most from the pandemic-induced national economic recession.
Due to harsh lockdown regulations the country’s authorities imposed between March and June, tourist guides and small business owners saw their activities markedly plummet to a near-ground level.
This region has always witnessed economic prosperity, being nationally known as the center of national economic growth, until COVID-19 measures were put forth.
During the lockdown, Casablanca-Settat was the epicentre of the pandemic in Morocco. Local authorities dealt with the situation accordingly, strictly enforcing a firm national lockdown to prevent the spread of COVID-19 clusters in the region.
Even when lockdown measures were lifted in the end of June, tourist guides and business owners were still skeptical. Having been through an excruciating three-month lockdown, many of them did not think things would swiftly be back to normal as they were before the pandemic.
Some businesses were able to partially recover after the lift but not enough for a business to sustain the monthly bills and supplier debts.
The summertime activities were the dominant income to some businesses in Casablanca, especially those related to touristic activities.
But with the pandemic raging through the Casablanca-Settat region, many business owners decided to keep their businesses closed. Most said their goods were stuck in the port because they had to pay absurd amounts of money as custom fees.
As a result, some businesses were forced to sack some of their employees, despite the financial package the Moroccan government allocated to help the country’s severely hit businesses.
One famous Souk in Casablanca contains more than 2500 stores and used to serve more than 100,000 customers daily in holiday seasons and during weekends before the lockdown.
But the national and international demand in the marketplace in Casablanca plummeted during and after the lockdown, driving the famous souk’s activities far below its pre-pandemic level. With the recession, business owners refrained from supplying goods to their stores fearing that they would not be sold.
According to a recent report, co-authored by Morocco’s High Commission for Planning, the UN System in Morocco, and the World Bank, the percentage of Moroccans “vulnerable to poverty” or “poor” is expected to reach 19.87% in the coming weeks and months.
The report also predicted that Morocco will record a recession, with a GDP of 5.8% lower than in 2019 and a budget deficit of 6.9%. It added, however, that the country will bounce back in the coming months, with a growth of 4.4% compared to 2020.
The recession will add to the report’s number as the status quo persists and more unemployment will be recorded.
Despite the overall grim picture, Moroccan Business owners and tourist guides in the Casablanca-Settat region have high hopes that the country’s economic situation will be back to normal — or at least in a much better shape — as soon as possible.