Is half the tourist accommodation in the Fez Medina about to disappear? Tourist numbers are down in Fez (see story here) and accommodation owners are facing uncertain times. A new system of classifying tourist accommodation is a major cause of concern
There are currently 107 classified guest houses and many maisons prêtes à louer (fully furnished rentals). For many, their main source of reservations come through the accommodation website Booking.com.
In June, owners of tourist accommodation who advertise on Booking.com received a notification that, to continue operating, they needed a new identification number which would be issued by the Moroccan tourist authorities. They were informed that their advertisements would be deleted as from August, 1, 2016 if they failed to supply this number.
However, many owners are caught in a tricky situation - they are unable to ensure their properties qualify in order to obtain the identification number as there are, as yet, no criteria for doing so.
Laurence, the owner of a fully furnished rental of three rooms, which has been operating since 2009, echoes what many owners are saying, "I am extremely worried about the future of my business. Ninety per cent of my turnover is made via Booking.com".
This situation has a long history. In December 2008, at a meeting organised by the Wali with the foreign owners, the director of the CRT (Regional Tourism Committee) of Fez announced that the long awaited law allowing the classification of small guest houses of three and four rooms was about to be released. In the meantime, the authorities invited the owners to adjust to the standards of maisons prêtes à louer which were presented as a legal and compliant solution.
At that same meeting, the president of the A.R.M.H (Regional Association of Guest Houses) approved this type of classification and gave his full support to owners who satisfied the fiscal and administrative conditions for this category.
Eight years after that meeting, the law proposed by the authorities has been approved by the parliament. However, the details are yet to be released. Until they are, accommodation owners in the Fez Medina do not know how to comply with the new requirements of the tourist authorities. This puts in jeopardy the businesses and livelihoods of Moroccan and foreign owners, and hundreds of their employees, in the Fez Medina.
|Mayor of Fez, Mr Driss Azami Idrissi has shown leadership|
A further complication is that there appears to be confusion with the CRT and the ARMH mixing up illegal accommodation and maisons prêtes à louer. The ARMH has even suggested in the media the idea that ALL the houses unclassified by the tourist authorities are illegal and thus unsafe and unchecked.
Fortunately, there has been leadership shown by top figures in Fez's administration. In response to the dismay of the owners of maisons prêtes à louer, the Mayor of Fez, Mr Driss Azami Idrissi, organised a meeting about this sensitive issue with the concerned parties.
He made a commitment to contact his counterpart at the Ministry of the Tourism to get an extension of the deadline notified by Booking.com, while waiting for the details of the new law.
Fez has a desperate need to increase tourism and offering a wide range of accommodation gives a better choice for visitors.
2008 The View From Fez
2009 The View From Fez