Morocco’s Tourism minister: UK market promising

Friday 13/11/2015
Lahcen Haddad

London - Morocco is seeking to take advan­tage of the growing British economy by encouraging Britons to visit the North African kingdom and open new routes from more UK cities, Moroccan Tourism Minister Lahcen Haddad said.

There has been strong growth in the number of UK nationals travelling to Morocco with 460,000 Britons having visited Morocco in 2014, compared to 308,000 in 2010. Morocco is seeking to attract 1 mil­lion a year from the United King­dom within two years.

“With the British economy pick­ing up, Britons are travelling more and more,” Haddad said on the sidelines of the World Travel Market in London in early November.

The UK market, he said, “allows us to diversify from our historic dependence of the French market. The British market is one of the most mature markets in the world because of the well-established tour operators and airline companies.”

A promotional campaign enti­tled MuchMorocco was launched in January and was designed by a UK communications design agency rather than a French advertising agency. The campaign aimed at English-speaking travellers means that the UK market is serious busi­ness for the Moroccan National Tourist Office (MNTO). Amine Boughaleb, MNTO director in London, said the campaign hoped to bring the essence of Morocco to holidaymakers.

“What we are trying to do is to divert a little bit from the London base and go to Manchester, Liver­pool and Newcastle as well as the Scottish cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow by encouraging carriers to launch new routes,” said Haddad.

There are more than 70 direct flights a week between Morocco and the United Kingdom. More than half of the flights are from London. Morocco’s national carrier in Octo­ber began service between Rabat and London and low-cost airline EasyJet launched service between Glasgow and Marrakech a year ago.

Omar Tahiri, Morocco manager of rental car company Sixt, said the new destinations would be benefi­cial because the UK market “is be­coming more and more important” for Morocco’s tourism.

“Creating new destinations will… boost some cities, such as Agadir, which have been neglected. The eastern region should be also in­cluded in the diversification plan,” said Tahiri.

The minister said there was a great possibility to develop Ouir­gane, where it often snows, as a tourist destination for skiers. He also said that Loukaimden station must be developed in a sustainable manner to be able to attract more tourists in the winter season.

Morocco is also eyeing niche markets.

“In the short term we are very competitive in golf tourism and thermal spas and we also seek to build medical tourism. Those are the niches that Morocco wants to work on,” Haddad said.

Morocco has also proved in the last few years to be a lead­ing surfing destination in Africa thanks to its 3,500 kilometres of coastline and its growing surfing schools. In September, Morocco hosted Quiksilver Pro Casablanca, which featured professional surfers competing in North Africa for the first time.