“Meter“arhaba”, which means “welcome” in Arabic, is the name of a campaign launched by the kingdom in early June each year to welcome Moroccans living abroad (MRE). It has now been two years This operation is not possible due to the pandemic and travel restrictions in the whole world. However, on June 5, the Muhammad V Solidarity Foundation launched Marhaba 2022 with much fanfare.For this very particular version we have observed some changes: a very smooth reception system Moroccoexist Franceexist Italy and in Spain, 23 reception areas have been set up, and 17 reception points have been set up in the northern ports and all airports in the kingdom. This year, two new stations were opened at Rabat-Salé Airport and M’Diaq. In addition to medical assistance services, Moroccan authorities have established social workers, paramedics and volunteers. In short, the foundation has mobilized more than 1,000 people to ensure a smooth summer, and professionals in the industry are already rubbing their hands. But analysts say a good offer and service must follow that gesture and warm welcome.
“MRE is happy and eager to return to Morocco this summer! Some even return early by boat. Affordable and easy to use. No more mandatory PCR tests for vaccinated people. Everyone is eager to return to their home country,” Hayat El Moundir, president of the Moroccan Association from the Isère department in France, said happily.
The same lively spirit as Mountassir who lives in the mountains Germany People who returned to the stadium after five years: “I’m fine… Tickets are not expensive at all, you just need to buy them in advance.” This is an open secret. If you buy your tickets the day before your trip, don’t complain that the tickets are expensive! “, he explained.
In Asilah, a coastal town south of Tangier, Hajja Neftaha cheered her reunion with her daughter Yasmine, her T-shirt nearly wet with her mother’s tears. “Nothing can contain my joy. I finally see my daughter again, my pampered daughter, the light in my eyes. I thank King Mohammed VI for reopening the borders! I thought with the pandemic I would never see each other again To my daughter. I lost sleep. I sold my jewelry and bought him the first flight from the US to Morocco!”, Hajja Neftaha told us excitedly.
That said, there are a few hurdles that some people have to overcome before this reunion…
Marhaba…under formal conditions
Given the pandemic situation that appears to be recovering in recent weeks, there are always conditions that need to be met to enter the kingdom. Ali, who lives in Canada and frequently travels back and forth between Casablanca and Montreal, knows the song: “You must show a valid vaccine passport or a negative PCR test within 72 hours. That’s not all! You also have to fill it out every time. A passenger health form. In short, you need a complete vaccination schedule based on the country of origin,” he told us.
According to Moroccan Minister of Health and Social Security Khalid Aït Taleb, the kingdom’s health authorities have mobilized the health system for epidemiological surveillance, its structure and framework to deal with monkeypox other than Covid-19. (monkeypox) and prevent its spread. Health authorities have also taken the initiative to train health managers and inform them of the disease, which has never existed in Morocco.
Regardless, despite these formal restrictions, the overall impression is clear: at the kingdom’s ports and airports, MREs, like tourists, seem happy to land in Morocco. “150 million DH was mobilized to prepare for transit operations,” Moussa, the executive officer of Al Hoceima port, told us. All these funds have been injected to ensure the mobility and comfort of these beautiful people who will be returning to the country. We have thought about increasing the capacity without forgetting the comfort of the passengers…” he confided to us.
All in all, these efforts in Morocco are already starting to pay off: 40% increase in volume on first day of Marhaba operation in 2022 Compared to 2019, according to the Foundation’s consistent sources. In terms of passenger numbers, it was 13,000 on the first day alone. With an estimated 3 million visitors that year, the indicator puts that number in the box of possibilities.
Tourism: encouraging figures and new projects
According to Moroccan Tourism Minister Fatim-Zahra Amor, 1.5 million tourists have already arrived in Morocco between January 2022 and April 2022. “This official statement is based on serious numbers. So, by September 2022, we will easily reach our target of 3 million tourists,” a parliamentary source close to the minister’s party, the National Rally for Independence (RNI), confidently confirmed .
During a working meeting, the tourism minister also announced that Morocco has already earned $1.5 billion in monetary terms between January 2022 and April 2022 alone. Revenue has exceeded AED 1,462 billion by the end of April 2022, compared to AED 6.54 in the same period. According to the foreign exchange bureau, the deadline is 2021.
Meanwhile, Fatim-Zahra Ammor in his recent speech called for the strengthening of domestic tourism. The latter represents nearly 30% of overnight stays in tourist accommodation known as EHTs, categorized by country. Additionally, domestic travel accounted for 50% of overnight stays in 2020 and 69% in 2021 during the health crisis. The minister also noted that 72% of Moroccans value the price of travel services.
need to seduce
Operators in the industry are also confident that we just need to be “good” in terms of price and be creative in terms of entertainment. “Even before Operation Marhaba, we were noticing MREs and tourists landing in Morocco every weekend…a wind of renaissance, a wind of hope, so it was confirmed. There are more and more planes available , there is room for everyone. The desire for Morocco is very important this year,” said Hamid Bentahar, President of the National Tourism Confederation (CNT) and Chairman and CEO of Accor Gestion Maroc.
Regarding the price of air and ferry tickets, Hamid Bentahar cites the famous law of supply and demand. “We are asking operators and professionals to increase the supply to meet all the demands, at a reasonable price. In addition, we should consider offering more air seats, which must be targeted and have the largest number of tourists,” continued the CEO of Accor Gestion Maroc .
On the hotel side, Hamid Bentahar believes that at the regional and provincial level, support programs must be developed to help tourists refurbish their establishments…the latter must be up to the task of animating hospitality and leisure. “We need to come up with something fun that encourages people to not only want to come, but stay as long as possible, not even want to leave… just to celebrate the reunion in a good and proper way,” he concluded.
Regardless, it’s clear that all professionals in the industry have turned the Covid page once and for all.
Covid page turned
For Aziz Harman, a hotel consultant and former manager of several hotels in the Kingdom, “Foreign tourists have arrived in some of the Kingdom’s cities early and bookings have surged, which bodes well for a very good season. Let’s forget the disastrous season brought on by the pandemic.”
In terms of offers, Azziz Hamman said, “Classified hotels with premium products perfected their offers before the recovery, and now they are being inundated with demands. There are premium offers, with a good quality/price ratio, so competition is fierce, only the best space,” explains the hotel consultant.
Looking around at hotels in Marrakech when booking, Patrick and Anne, two Britons from Liverpool, were spoilt. “We have delayed our first trip to Morocco for 3 years, but this year is the right year! We did everything we could to get there, we were in Marrakech! We were in our 3e We were all tanned that day! “The couple happily explained. They settled in a hotel that, in their words, offered ‘paradise on a budget’.
contact details african point, Anas Khoubrane, the hotel’s reservations manager, revealed some secrets to this year’s recipe. “Simply, we propose all-inclusive. Lunch, afternoon tea, dinner, soft drinks/alcoholic beverages, access to the water park, free shuttle to and from the airport, hourly shuttle between the hotel and Jemaa el-Fna, and entertainment throughout the day: Gnaoua, dekka Marrakchia, if customer Requirements, kids club and babysitting services…1,500 dh per couple,” Anas explained in detail.
Today, the hotel where he works is full on weekends. In July and August, there are only a few free rooms left. Anas says occupancy will reach 70% by September. “For the most active segments, our local market and MREs are 50% filled; 32% in Europe and the UK; 18% are Israelis,” concluded Anas.
Institutions have gone into overdrive
So the great tourism machine of the land of the sun is in motion. In addition to the enormous work provided by the operators of the sector in cooperation with the Moroccan Ministry of Tourism and the Government of Ahannucci, there is also the effort of the Moroccan National Office of Tourism (ONMT).
Let us recall that a delegation of the latter recently visited France, the United Kingdom and the United States. Goal: To promote Morocco as a destination in these strategic markets by launching a new international campaign “Morocco, Land of Light”. The ONMT team will soon be visiting about 20 other countries to attract as many tourists as possible to Morocco, and it should be remembered that for a while it carried the label “the most beautiful country in the world”. Saudi Arabia intends to find a qualifier and a title again this year with an increase in initiatives targeting tourists and Moroccans living abroad.