Saturday, June 25, 2016

A Bumpy Ride for Moroccan Tourism

Morocco's tourist market is particularly volatile at the moment, with drops in arrivals from the normal source countries.  French tourist numbers are down, with experts pointing to a number of causes, including the European football competition, social unrest and perceptions about terrorism

In a recent survey, the number of French citizens planning to travel during the summer holidays is down from 59% to 55%. Of the French who said they would travel, only 19% intended to travel abroad, with 39% saying they would holiday in France.

Those travelling abroad are heading first of all to Spain, Italy and Portugal, in that order, with Morocco in fourth place.  When questioned about their choices only 11% of respondents intended to visit the Magreb.  Morocco was the destination for 7%, with Tunisia on 3% and 1% for Algeria.

The UK market is also suffering a downturn. Travel expert Bob Atkinson, of, has no hesitation in explaining the causes. “We have seen terrorism in Tunisia, Paris and Brussels, bomb attacks in Turkey, and the Russian jet downed at Sharm el Sheik. This has affected demand for Turkey, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Cyprus and Malta,” he says. Atkinson added: “These countries have all had lower demand than you would expect. Tunisia is 100 per cent down, Morocco 90 per cent down and Turkey 70 per cent down.”

French tourist numbers are down

Atkinson is not alone in blaming unrest for the downturn.  Opodo, an online travel agency founded in 2001 by a consortium of European airlines, including Air France, Lufthansa, British Airways, KLM, Iberia, Alitalia, Austrian Airlines, Aer Lingus and Finnair, explains that Morocco is suffering following unrest in Tunisia, the refugee crisis in Turkey and its perceived proximity to the problems in Syria.

The bookings for Tunisia and Turkey, are down respectively by 68% and 72%, and because Morocco is a Muslim country in North Africa, it suffers by association, with bookings down 66% for the summer of 2016.

Another recent market survey revealed the same story. Morocco and Turkey have suddenly dropped in the rankings of the favourite tourist destinations for UK travellers. According to the headline on website of the British newspaper, The Express, "Morocco and Turkey plummet on British holidaymakers' list of must-visit places."

The UK survey indicated that Morocco and its key destination for British tourists, Marrakech, was once a firm favourite but it’s dropped down 11 places to the 35th most searched holiday destination in 2016. The Express reported that is was the same for Turkey, which dropped 11 places to rank 29th overall.

Morocco is a safe destination!

Again this sudden drop in popularity of Morocco Turkey is attributable to negative images of both countries because of their chaotic neighbours. Although perfectly safe, Morocco and Turkey have failed to stand out from their neighbourhoods where rampant terrorism and the refugee crises grab people's attention. The Express points out that the terrorist attacks in Tunisia and Libya and the refugee crisis in the Middle East pushed British tourists towards European destinations such as Spain and Italy.

Interestingly, in the UK it is only Londoners who select Marrakech as their favourite destination. But Londoners take shorter stays, on average 3 days and prefer the luxurious palaces of Marrakech to cheaper accommodation. Inhabitants of other regions of the UK, those who go to Spain or Cyprus, spend longer holidays and usually in less classy hotels. Just for the record, inhabitants of other cities such as Edinburgh and Birmingham prefer Barcelona while the citizens of Plymouth and Brighton prefer the Canary islands.


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