Moroccan tourism is going through a bad patch today. And the measures and promotional campaigns dedicated to reviving this sector are proving insufficient. Update with Samir Kheldouni Sahraoui, founder of Cabinet Chorus Consulting.
Could you, first of all, give us a picture of the current situation of the tourism sector in Morocco?
Today, the Covid 19 pandemic has shaken up all these ills from which tourism has suffered for decades. The pandemic has brutally and unprecedentedly affected the tourism and hospitality industry around the world, leading global tourism to record a historic 74% drop in international tourist arrivals in 2020 compared to 2019.
Morocco also recorded an unprecedented drop of over 85% of its overnight stays of foreign and local tourists in 2020 compared to 2019, causing considerable damage to the entire hospitality sector and related jobs in the region. country. In addition, the World Tourism Organization, through a bulletin published in January 2021, demonstrated, through a survey of world experts in the sector, that 84% of said experts recommend that the effects of the Covid-19 crisis will last on the global tourism until 2023-2024, or even beyond.
When will Morocco return to 2019 levels?
Given that at the end of April 2021, only 2.5% of the world population had received two doses of the vaccine, I do not see how international tourism could return under our skies to the levels of 2019, before 2025 or even beyond. .
How do you assess the measures and actions taken by the government and the bodies dedicated to tourism to prepare for the recovery, particularly on the communication component; and how can we effectively boost internal tourism?
In exceptional circumstances, exceptional and tangible measures must be taken, with crisis tourism marketing and not traditional tourism marketing. First of all, we must deal with the emergency to maintain employment and avoid the migration of skills to other sectors. This directly challenges the State and raises the question of whether, strategically, the Moroccan State wishes or does not wish to continue supporting tourism as an important pillar of our economy.
In addition, and given that international tourism has gone on for years of hibernation, it is necessary to take advantage of this crisis in a way to reinvent national domestic tourism by creating an offer that is within the reach of the purses of the greatest number, and adapted to the expectations of the national market. This offer does not necessarily have to be in the form of a hotel.
It is important to guarantee our nationals a customer journey that is at the same time without danger of contamination in terms of health, fun and attractive. For that, nothing better than a tourist strategy of the “Large spaces” where, apart from the lodging, almost all the activities will have to take place in the open air. We must, of course, find a formula capable of allowing nationals to travel between regions of Morocco for tourism reasons, while respecting health requirements.
What about international tourism?
With regard to international tourism, we must anticipate the recovery. However, this anticipation should not be done on the sole axis of communication or seduction as it seems to be the case at present, but also and above all on the axis of the offer. Moroccan tourism 2.0 post-Covid requires an offer that is labeled “Covid Free”, with therefore a certified customer journey in terms of health, from getting off the plane until boarding for the return trip, and also an offer for the same. to favor large spaces, because the tourism of tomorrow will have, for at least another ten years, nothing more to do with what we have marketed until then. Today the concepts of sustainability and responsibility in tourism are no longer a luxury, nor a fashion, but an absolute necessity.
This current crisis has exposed a structurally failing sector due, in particular, to an almost absent governance. All the strategies have been a failure. In terms of governance and management as well as the territoriality of the Moroccan offer, Vision 2020, for example, is lagging behind. Tourism, this sector which employs millions of Moroccans, is it no longer a priority for the government?
Through your question, you effectively raise a crucial issue, which is whether tourism is still on the radar of this government’s economic priorities.
You are right, because long before this pandemic came to destroy what had been imperfectly constructed, we always denounced the loss of momentum that had been driven by Vision 2010, which had all the same had the merit of mobilizing the State. on the importance of the tourism sector for the growth of the Moroccan economy, the creation of value and the creation of jobs in a homogeneous way on all our territories.
Today, sacrificing tourism seems to me to be an error that is very difficult to repair insofar as it is a sector which accounts for 7 points of GDP in terms of foreign tourism receipts and 4 points in terms of foreign tourism. receipts from domestic tourism, ie a total of 11 points of the GDP and some 3 million direct and indirect jobs if we add the craft industry, whose activity is directly correlated with tourism.
Can we be allowed to forget this sector, make it wait, put it through profit and loss? Certainly not. To avoid this, both the private sector and the government oversight of the sector must campaign, convince and fight for this sector. We need a strong tourism ministry, able to impose its point of view in a government that is today dispersed and hesitant.