You could hardly miss the number of British tourists our house hunters in Fez at the moment which is great news for the local real estate companies and simsars. Now a new wave of visitors is expected to arrive by next summer. No, not the Germans or the French, but the Canarians!
According to the autonomous government of the Canary Islands, a final decision to launch a ferry route between the Spanish Canary Island of Fuerteventura and the southern-most port of Morocco, Tarfaya, has been made. The new line, which is to transport both passengers and freight, is intended to begin operation next summer.
Hidden behind the large headlines about a great illegal traffic of migrants from West and North-West Africa to Spanish archipelago lies the fact that trade and legal traffic in persons in rapidly growing. Canarian investors and charter tourists from northern Europe are increasingly traveling to north-western Africa, while traders and shopping tourists from Morocco, Mauritania and Senegal are becoming a visible part of urban life in the Canary Islands.
Consequently, air connections between the Gran Canaria and north-western Africa have slowly improved, and the traffic of freighter ships from the Las Palmas port to Africa is growing rapidly. Passengers however until now have not been able to cross the narrow strait between the Spanish islands and southern Morocco - only 100 kilometres wide - by ship.
Plans to make such a connection were announced in Fuerteventura - the island closest to the African mainland by President Adán Martín who said that a regular ferry service between the Fuerteventura port of Puerto del Rosario and southern Morocco's Tarfaya was to commence "before next summer."
The Canary Island government has placed much importance and prestige in the project, and Mr Martín emphasised that the ferry connection with Morocco "involves an extremely important change for the Canary Islands," which now looks to Africa for economic development. The new line, which connects the islands with the mainland following the shortest route of approximately 100 kilometres with a duration of three to four hours, was said to have "a strategic character" for the archipelago.
Mr Martín said his government was now putting pressure on the European Union (EU) - which is a major financial source of development to the islands - to rubberstamp the ferry project before the end of the year and as such secure its funding. The Canary Islands had told the EU the connection would be vital to secure more traffic in goods and persons, and as such consolidating the islands' role as a popular holiday destination.
Many details of the upcoming ferry connection however still need to be elaborated. For example, neither the type of ferry nor the timetable has been detailed by Canary Island authorities or the shipping company. Depending on the type of vessel chosen, the journey could take anything from two and a half hour to four hours, President Martín noted.
We await the arrival of ship loads of Canarians with much anticipation!
Tags: Morocco Fes, Maghreb news