Morocco encourages domestic tourism to mitigate COVID-19 losses

Morocco’s tourism sector could suffer a drop up to $3.4 billion in turnover by the end of 2020 due to the COVID-19 crisis.
Wednesday 10/06/2020
Tourists take pictures while visiting the Hassan II Grand Mosque in Morocco’s Casablanca, last March. (AFP)
Tourists take pictures while visiting the Hassan II Grand Mosque in Morocco’s Casablanca, last March. (AFP)

RABAT--Moroccan operators in the tourism transportation sector asked authorities to take measures to support domestic tourism as a way to curb the economic impact of COVID-19 on their business, especially in Marrakesh, the kingdom’s tourist capital.

To encourage domestic tourism after months of decline, tourism transportation operators have reduced the price of rental cars by 50-66%.

Morocco’s tourism sector could suffer a drop up to $3.4 billion in turnover by the end of 2020 due to the COVID-19 crisis, according to the Moroccan Confederation of Tourism (CNT).

The tourism sector and activities that make up its value chain, namely hotels, restaurants, travel agencies and distribution networks, land transport and car rentals are all suffering, the CNT added.

Operators in the tourism transportation sector are betting on domestic tourism as a way to mitigate their losses from cancelled reservations from foreign tourists.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Moroccan government suspended all tourism activities starting mid-March and closed its international borders.

The National Federation of Tourism Transportation (FNTT) and the federation of car rental companies signed a cooperation agreement to revive the tourism transport sector and support domestic tourism to save businesses threatened with bankruptcy, particularly travel agencies, tourist companies, tourist transport and passenger air transport.

The House of Representatives adopted a bill in mid-May  enacting special provisions for travel contracts, tourist stays and passenger air transport contracts, according to Morocco news agency (MAP).

Minister of Tourism, Handicrafts, Air Transport and Social Economy Nadia Fettah Alaoui said the bill was an effort to support the struggling sectors in the wake of the health crisis.

Marrakesh is Morocco’s prime tourist destination, making up two-thirds of the country’s tourism transport economy.

Representatives of the tourism transport workers said that the COVID-19 crisis had been especially painful for them as banks demanded interest on debt despite the outcomes of the Vigilance Committee, which called for the suspension of payments on micro-finance loans for 6 months.