The government powerless in the face of the risk of a disappointing summer season

A few weeks before the start of the summer season, doubt still hangs over the fate of the tourism sector, held hostage by the state of health emergency and the closure of international borders. Although travel restrictions are not as strict as before, internal tourist flows are far from regaining their momentum, despite the efforts of the Ministry of Tourism and the various parties concerned, which is banking on domestic tourism to save the sector. bankruptcy announced in the event of a disappointing summer season, knowing that the number of foreign tourists fell by 78%, according to figures presented by the Minister of Solidarity and Social Development Jamila Moussali, who spoke on behalf of by the Minister of Tourism Nadia Fettah Alaoui, during the oral questioning session in the House of Representatives.

Tourism professionals: the vital issue

In this context, the fate of tourism operators and professionals in the sector remains uncertain, notwithstanding the government’s modest efforts to compensate employees of tourist establishments. Craftsmen, hoteliers, tourist transporters and restaurateurs, all lack visibility of their fate. Asked about this subject, Jamila Moussali contented herself with listing the measures already taken by the Executive within the framework of the program contract for the revival of tourism, which provided fixed allowances to employees in the sector, whose number of beneficiaries is close to 79,000 people. “5,518 tourism companies have filed their declarations to benefit their employees,” she said. These efforts remain insufficient in the eyes of MEPs, who consider that the tourism sector is too informal to withstand the ravages of the current crisis. This was recognized by Minister Moussali, promising a vast plan to regularize professionals such as artisans and tourist guides in the social security system.

Travel restrictions: it’s time to let go of the ballast

MEPs also pointed out the persistence of travel restrictions which terribly hamper the activities of the most vulnerable categories of tourism professionals. Istiqlali MP Tarik Kadiri criticized the government’s tendency to impose restrictive measures arbitrarily, regardless of its devastating impact. This state of uncertainty concerning the continuity of restrictive measures, although the health situation is improving, arouses the incomprehension of the deputies, some of whom expressed their amazement at the silence of the government. An intolerable situation in the eyes of Tarik Kadiri who recalled that three million artisans and bazaar owners are in a dire situation and are losing hope. As substantial as it is, the monthly allowance of 2,000 dirhams, the benefit of which the government has extended until June, cannot remedy the situation.

The Istiqlalien deputy underlined the insufficiency of compensatory aid paid to employees, adding that they are too low to allow them to withstand the hard blow of the crisis which has lasted for more than a year. For his part, Lahcen Haddad, deputy of the Istiqlal Party and former Minister of Tourism, called on the Executive to find immediate solutions to save the aforementioned professional categories from imminent bankruptcy. Foreign tourists: the executive improvises Several deputies, including the Istiqlalien Tarik Kadiri, denounced the absence of a clear government strategy to welcome foreign tourists while European countries prepare to reopen their borders. Added to this is the holding of Operation Marhaba which is still uncertain. In reality, nothing has yet been announced concerning the management of the reopening of air borders, which will remain closed for health reasons until June 10, according to a note from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGAC). In addition to laconic communication, the Ministry of Tourism, like all other government departments, remains silent on the management of the health passport and the modalities of its implementation. This has led the deputies to think that the Executive does not have a clear plan of action on the matter.

Domestic tourism: holiday vouchers in preparation

At a time when Nadia Fettah Alaoui’s department is trying, in collaboration with the National Tourist Office, to convince Moroccans to spend their holidays in their country, the minister has also announced some new measures to support domestic tourism, such as the rehabilitation of hotel establishments in several regions and the introduction of holiday vouchers, the implementation of which will soon be recorded by decree. While waiting for good news or bold measures, the campaign to promote national tourism “Ntla9awfbladna”, launched on May 3, is not unanimous as to its effectiveness. Many consider that a communication effort, however sagacious, could not galvanize Moroccans to visit the picturesque landscapes of their countries when a stay in Spain or Turkey costs less than a dignified stay. of this name in a Moroccan tourist city, like Marrakech or Agadir.

Evidenced by the prices of overnight stays, considered high, which often exceed a thousand dirhams in hotels. In addition, the tourist offer needs diversification and qualitative improvement, lamented Lahcen Haddad who recalled that the debate on the promotion of domestic tourism dates from last year without the government having decided on concrete measures. A plan in this area is needed due to lack of visibility on the opening of international borders, knowing that air traffic will not return to its level prior to the Covid-19 crisis until 2024, according to Jamila Moussali.

Janelle B. Smith

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