Morocco on track to break 2019 tourism records

 Wednesday, June 7, 2023 


Morocco’s tourism sector is continuing to show a strong recovery from the setbacks it faced during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to data from the country’s Tourism Observatory.

Arrivals reached 1.1 million tourists by April 2023, signifying an increase of 4% compared to the same period in 2019, and a 90% increase compared to 2022.

The growth in arrivals is due to a significant 91% increase in foreign visitors, as well as a 90% increase in arrivals of Moroccans residing abroad (MREs), compared to April 2022.

Meanwhile, the number of overnight stays by tourists at classified accommodation establishments rose by 121% compared to April 2022, but decreased by 22% compared to the same period in 2019.

Travel receipts have increased by 10% since 2019, reaching MAD 7.1 billion ($700 million) compared to 2019’s MAD 6.5 billion ($650 million).

The biggest increase in visitors compared to April 2019 came from Spain, with visitors from the European country increasing by 35%. The UK and Italy also had an increased number with 13% and 4% respectively.

In contrast, arrivals from the Belgian market declined by 34%, with German and Dutch travellers also declining by 33% and 26%.

Interestingly, the main tourist hotspots in the country have seen a decline in the number of visitors compared to 2019. Visitors to Marrakech decreased by 7%, while Agadir saw a 26% decline.

Tanger similarly recorded a decrease of 21%, while Fes had a bigger one at 31%.

An economic pillar

The tourism sector is one of the main pillars of Morocco’s economy, consistently contributing strongly to its GDP as well as the job market.

According to data compiled in 2023 by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), tourism contributed nearly 11% of Morocco’s GDP in 2022, with a total value of MAD 145.7 billion ($14.2 billion), marking an annual change of 85.4%.

The big jump was due to the country’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, as authorities started relaxing entry restrictions and lifting social distancing measures.

The sector’s contribution is expected to reach 11.5% by the end of 2023, hitting MAD 156 billion ($15.3 billion), an increase of 7.1% from 2022 and 4.8% from 2019.

The improvement on the 2019 numbers is also significant as that was the last year that was unaffected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The WTTC data also highlights improvement in the visitor spending in morocco, highlighting that it reached over MAD 103 billion in 2022, a nearly 146% jump compared to the year before.

Morocco’s tourism industry might have also received a boost from the country’s notable performances at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Zakaria Harti, an official at the Marrakech Menara Airport, gave a statement in February that they recorded an increase of more than 12% (in arrivals) in December 2022 compared to December 2019.

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