Recent outbreaks of coronavirus in Morocco and new restrictions imposed by the country's authorities have slowed down efforts to boost domestic tourism, industry professionals warned.
The vice president of the Moroccan Confederation of Tourism (CMT), Faouzi Zemrani, said in a statement to Efe today that the new restrictions taken in recent days in several tourist cities discouraged the arrival of local visitors.
The Moroccan government ordered since Wednesday the reconfirmation of the three tourist cities of Fez, Tangier and Asilah in view of the disturbing increase in cases of coronavirus, which accumulated today 28,500 cases, among which 19,994 were cured and 435 died.
In addition, the Executive banned on the eve of the Feast of Sacrifice (where there are massive human movements) the movement from and to eight major cities in the country, including the tourist Marrakech and Casablanca.
The sudden closure of some cities and the new control measures led several Moroccan tourists to cancel their trips or avoid making any vacation plans.
In Rabat, for example, most of the tourist sites and historical monuments have been closed, and some took the opportunity to carry out construction work, while little movement can be observed near the city's hotels. "People are tired and are limiting their movements, and we are three weeks away from the end of August. (...) Domestic tourism is not going to save the season," warned Zemrani.
The vice-president of the CMT gave the example of the few hotels that have reopened during the June de-escalation in Marrakech (south) but have only made an occupation of between 8 and 10 %.
As for the few hotels that reopened in Agadir (south) and in the north of the country (favourite destination of Moroccan tourists) they have barely achieved an average occupancy rate of 50 %, Zemrani added.
For professionals in the sector, domestic tourism was the last chance to boost the sector after the fall of international tourism (which accounts for 70% of the sector's income in Morocco) due to the closure of the Maghreb country's borders for more than four months.
On the other hand, Zemrani stressed that the government will sign today a contract program with the CMT, the employers and the grouping of Moroccan banks that foresees several measures to accompany the tourism sector, strongly damaged by the crisis of the coronavirus.
These measures include plans to save jobs in this sector which guarantees at least 550,000 direct jobs and on which other sectors such as crafts and transport depend.
The Moroccan government will also mobilize 6 billion dirhams (548 million euros) to save the state airline Royal Air Maroc (RAM).
Morocco expects tourism revenues to drop by 70% this year due to the impact of measures taken to curb the spread of the virus.