Zemrani: Many operators will not open their doors this summer

Faouzi Zemrani, vice-president of the national confederation of tourism

Faouzi Zemrani, vice-president of the national confederation of tourism

LObservateur.info: The hoteliers have decided to adopt an incentive price list for MREs and locals. How will this device be deployed?

Faouzi Zemrani: These are not the measures that will save the tourism sector. The majority of Moroccan workers abroad do not stay in hotels. Generally, they dispose of their real estate in the country or spend their stay with the family. But, during this stay, which lasts on average between 3 and 4 weeks, they can go for 3 or 4 days on vacation by opting for a hotel. Hence the decision to grant Moroccans living abroad (MRE) reductions of 30% on the prices displayed on commercial platforms. The offer is valid until September 30, has recently been extended to residents. The prices will therefore be the same for all Moroccans from here and elsewhere. As the hotels start to fill up, the prices will go up. The more you reserve in advance, the more availability will be and therefore the prices will be reduced.

Will such measures be able to revive the tourism sector, which has been shut down for nearly a year and a half?

For hoteliers, this is just a way to keep the machine running while waiting for the official opening of the borders and the resumption of activity. With a Moroccan clientele, only the seaside resorts will benefit from this device, since very few nationals visit cities like Fez, Ouarzazate, … during this period. These regions are more popular with foreigners. Moreover, many operators still prefer to keep their curtains closed. In Agadir for example, 40% of hotels will remain closed during this period while waiting for better days. In Marrakech, riads and guest houses see no point in opening their doors

Some hoteliers have refused to apply these discounts. Does this have to do with the question of profitability?

With these reductions, hoteliers will certainly not get away with it, but it is the only alternative that exists today. Indeed, MRE and residents represent 30% of national tourism. In the normal period, the annual total filling rate reaches 60%. By focusing solely on domestic tourism, the rate will not exceed 20%. And for us, any hotel room that isn’t sold is a lost room. There is therefore strong competition between operators. Everyone uses their means to attract as many customers as possible (free stay for one or two children under 12, half-board rate for full-board stays, etc.). The majority of hotels have signed up to this program. Those who do not want to agree to a reduction are especially those who have already sold the stay before the implementation of this device, or those who have

already reduced their prices well before the launch of this operation.

When can we then speak of an effective revival of the sector?

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We can only talk about a real recovery when this pandemic has been brought under control and when the Morocco destination will become a green destination for the source markets. When there is then confidence between the sending and receiving markets, there will be a recovery. Morocco has its customers but who do not want to venture out today. Finally, one thing is certain, the restart will be slow and we will only be able to reach the level of 2019 during the second half of the year 2023.

Janelle B. Smith

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