For the last several weeks The View From Fez has been visited by an unusual and increasing number of Russians. But is this upsurge in interest matched by tourist numbers?
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Back in March the news media reported that the number of Russian tourists was expected to soar in the coming years following the visit by King Mohammed VI to the Russian Federation, a visit which gave a new momentum to Moroccan-Russian cooperation.
At the time the Moroccan National Tourism Office signed 12 agreements related to tourism as well as agreements with big Russian travel agencies to sell Moroccan destination to some 85,000 Russian tourists in 2016.
|King Mohammed VI and President Putin|
The strategy appears to be working and if the the hits on The View From Fez are any indication the potential tourists are doing a lot of research before travelling.
Last year, Russian tourists, who visited Morocco, spent over €25 million, according to the latest data released by the Moroccan Tourism Observatory.
About 60 percent of these Russian tourists were accompanied with relatives, while 18 percent of them came in organised trips. Over 49 percent of them stayed in rated hotels, while 45 percent chose Riads or rented apartments.
|Russian tourists visiting a souq|
Tourism professionals are confident that Morocco can attract over 200,000 Russian tourists a year. Talks are underway with airlines, such as Royal Air Maroc and Aeroflot, to open new routes between Moscow and St. Petersburg and Marrakesh and Agadir.
Agadir remains Russian tourists’ favourite destination in Morocco. According to Maghreb Arab Press, 11,541 Russian tourists visited Agadir at the end of June 2016, against 3,034 only during the same period of last year. The Regional Council of Tourism (CRT) says this is an increase of 280.39% during the first half of 2016.
Their number at the end of June 2016 reached 11,541, against 3,034 in the same period of 2015, according to statistics recently published by the CRT.
In early December Morocco’s Tourism Observatory released a communiqué showing that 8.1 million tourists have visited Marrakech in the first nine months of 2016. Visitor numbers from most European countries were down, however, the number of Russian visitors has doubled while Chinese tourists increased by 180 percent, compared to the same period of 2015.