Morocco expects a tourism boom with the opening of its borders with Spain

The reopening of the pass linking Ceuta and Melilla with the Alawi country promises to revive tourist activity, and Marrakech is set to become the sector's main centre


Morocco and Spain put an end to the closure between the two countries and from 17 May, both tourists and cross-border workers will be able to cross to the other nation. This opening represents a clear return to normality for the Alawi country which, for the last two years and due to the coronavirus pandemic, the crossing points had been closed. The Alawi country took this decision as a protective measure for Moroccans. 

Tourism in the North African nation promises to recover, and even more so with the resumption of activity between Spain and the Maghreb country. It is worth noting that Spain is one of Morocco's main tourist markets and has always received large numbers of visits from Spaniards. Moreover, the Alaouite kingdom has been creating strategies to promote this sector for some time now, such as the latest plan by the Moroccan government, which aims to resume an activity severely affected by COVID-19. 

AFP/FADEL SENNA  - Archive photo in the Spanish enclave of Ceuta

Under the slogan, "Morocco. Land of Light", the nation will try to promote tourism in the region, where in addition to recovering the sector, it will try to position itself as one of the main international destinations. This was announced a few weeks ago by the Moroccan National Office of Tourism (ONMT) as a new strategy to boost the national economy.  

This same institution has been planning for months how to boost the tourism industry, and one of its main targets is the Spanish. The opening of air borders in February requires the country to attract tourists, and the ONMT announced at that time the possibility of aligning itself with Spanish companies. Thanks to this boost, Morocco and Spain are continuing to forge ties, and Iberia, the Iberian country's leading multinational airline, has already announced new air routes to the Kingdom. 

PHOTO/ARCHIVO  -   The Moroccan National Tourist Office (ONMT) presented, in Rabat, its new international campaign "Morocco, Land of Light".

It is a summer programme that aims to generate major economic benefits for both parties. As such, six new routes have been established between the two countries and Iberia has chosen four major Moroccan cities with which it aims to promote activity. These are the cities of Nador, Casablanca, Tangier and Tetouan, where the country's major economic centres are located. 

Tourism, it seems, will experience one of its best moments this year where it is expected to register pre-pandemic levels. It should be remembered that the sector has experienced two years in which income has been scarce, with the country's executive even taking measures to alleviate the effects of the health crisis. The Moroccan government has provided financial aid to workers in this industry and in the hotel and catering sector, as they have been the hardest hit and their situation has been worrying.  

PHOTO/ARCHIVO  - Tourism in Morocco

Marrakech will also become the tourist centre of Morocco. Thanks to the lifting of restrictions, the city is once again receiving tourists, although it is still too early to reach pre-pandemic levels. The Alawi country is beginning to see an upturn in the sector in this area and it is good news for the nation, as in the first quarter, the city had more than half of its shops closed, and the city's most important tourist spots were almost empty.  

Experts say the boom in visits to the city is due to the reopening of air and sea transport. Since the first week, the number of flights to the city has increased by 270%, according to tourism expert Zoubir Bouhout.  

"We are gradually emerging from the crisis, and it is expected that the peak will be reached with the launch of the Marhaba (Strait Crossing) operation, which resumes after two years of interruption with the transit by sea of more than three million people in a period of three months (between June and August)," Bouhout assures EFE in an interview.  

Nevertheless, tourism in the area is experiencing remarkable growth. The Moroccan Bureau of Foreign Exchange reports that between January and March the country earned more than 9.7 billion dirhams from this sector, an increase of 79.6% compared to the previous year.