After lean years – tourism in Morocco and Tunisia wants to recover from Corona’s losses

For many, the Corona pandemic has turned into a memory, and today they have to work hard to make up for what they missed. The biggest thing that applies to this talk is the tourism sector, which has been affected in an unprecedented way by the spread of the pandemic, especially during the months of border closures and the imposition of strict conditions on anyone who wants to travel.

And if there are countries that have incomes other than tourism that allow them to resist, the pandemic has posed a major problem for the economies of other countries that rely heavily on tourism in their gross domestic product, such as countries in North Africa. Tourism was, according to the pandemic, between 7 and 10 percent of this output in Morocco, and about 12 percent in Egypt, and the percentage in Tunisia in 2019 reached 14 percent.

Hope in Morocco

There is great satisfaction among some tourism workers in Morocco after resuming their activities, specifically since the Kingdom resumed its air borders last February, after two months of complete closure due to the Omicron mutant. Although the Kingdom previously opened its borders between the summer of 2020 and November 2021, following the wave of world border closures at the start of the pandemic, the strict conditions and restrictions on several countries did not support the access of tourists as it is not. currently, especially after the authorities recently announced the cessation of compulsory vaccination and investigation PCR is limited to one of them.

“Personally, I feel that my business and my work in catering for parties and events has improved after almost two and a half years of stopping because of Corona. My phone started ringing again to arrange parties and provide the necessary tables, tents, food, drinks and others, ”said Said Bouguidour, a party caterer in the city of Qalaa Mgouna, in the southeast of Morocco, who is partnering with a group of hotels and guest houses.

Boukidour continues: “The tourism sector has almost collapsed due to a heart attack. Tourism is the backbone of life here, and most citizens live off it, either during the rose season or by selling rose products to tourists,” noting that he survived. with great difficulty during the last period, and that he lost his clients, whether it was Moroccans or foreigners, to decide Focus on money transfer activity, especially as the Corona period saw an increase in overpayments of Moroccan immigrants abroad .

Due to the closure of the borders and the significant restrictions imposed by the Kingdom on tourism during Corona’s two years, Rabat lost about $ 9.54 billion, according to official statements by Tourism Minister Fatima Zahra Amour last year. February.

Workers in the sector went out to protest, especially during the period of the closure of Omicron, during which Morocco was the only country in the region that was completely closed to everyone, including the Moroccans of the diaspora.

Tunisia and major aspirations

Tunisian tourism lost $ 2.3 billion during the years 2020 and 2021, according to official figures.

This year Tunisia wants to make up for what it missed, and has resumed shipping after almost three years of stopping, and there are 40 cruises scheduled for this year, transporting European tourists.

Riad Al-Dakhil, representative of the Tourist Office in Germany, gives the example of German tourists this year and says: “The growth rate of the German market in Tunisia, during the three months of 2022, was + 573%, which means that we are approaching the rate of 2019, during which we achieved records. ” .

And he continues, in an interview with Dutch Fillet Arabia, that major travel agencies in turn provide positive figures for the Tunisian destination, which will make 2022 very successful, he said, noting that the health authorities have drawn up a health protocol to following the pandemic sustained and no injuries were recorded among tourists the day after their visit to Tunisia during this general.

Tourism to counteract the high prices

North African countries are not isolated from the repercussions of the Russian war on Ukraine, especially with regard to food prices, which have risen around the world due to the suspension of supplies of many basic commodities, including wheat. But tourism appears here as a critic for many residents, as the return of work means greater ability to cover the cost of living, and the tourist, who will choose to go to cheap destinations instead of traditional European destinations, can contribute to the creating an economic movement that the region needs.

At the beginning of the war in Ukraine, there was a fear of a significant impact on the movement of tourists, as confirmed by Said Boukidour: “Many hotels in the city have seen the cancellation of more than half of their bookings, “but later the situation changes, especially because the city does not receive many Russian or Ukrainian tourists: here in the city we are mainly dealing with European and Chinese tourists.”

Tourism promotion programs

Recently, Rabat launched a campaign to attract tourists under the name “Morocco, the Land of Lights”, which targets 19 markets, including Germany, France and Spain, and targets international tourists between the ages of 25 and 59, with “interests in art , cultural experiences “. , nature and rural heritage, beaches and leisure activities. ” . Earlier this year, Rabat announced a $ 220 million grant to support the sector.

As much as there is great ambition for professionals in the sector to achieve great returns, there is criticism directed at the government in the management of strategic tourism projects, as Vision 2020, related to the reception of 20 million tourists, did not achieve its main goal despite its launch in 2010. and in spite of the Kingdom benefiting from the decline of competitive destinations, and in spite of The large numbers represented by Moroccans abroad in the number of tourist arrivals.

In Tunisia, the government relies heavily on the German market. Recently, the Tunisian Minister of Tourism, Mohamed Al-Moez Belhossein, visited the German capital, Berlin, in a move to attract German tourists. He told Deutsche Welle Arabiya TV that “tourism in Tunisia has historically started with the German market, and to regain its position after In the two years of Corona, the two parties must have a strong partnership.

Riad Al-Dakhil assures Deutsche Welle that the German market comes second to Tunisia after the French market, but the German tourist is the first in Tunisia in terms of the number of nights booked, and German tourists come first in golf tourism, which are factors that cause Tunisia to focus on Germany, Austria and the German-speaking part of Switzerland.

Tunisia is facing major challenges in the tourism sector, despite its importance in building the economy, but it did not exceed $ 1.9 billion in 2019, which has been considered a record for the past ten years. Professionals blame the Tunisian government for not diversifying its tourist offerings and for focusing excessively on beach tourism, which faces stiff competition from Tunisia’s neighbors in southern Europe and North Africa.

On the other hand, tourists are very positive about Morocco’s decision to abolish compulsory vaccination, and despite the extension of Rabat’s health crisis for a new month, it has facilitated many procedures and put life in the country almost in its normal state. brought back. There are high expectations that the closure of the borders will not happen again.

In Tunisia, it seems to have been settled, according to Riad Al-Dakhil: “There is no way to close the borders again and close the hotels, life must remain normal. “The last two years have given us great experience in dealing with the pandemic and we are ready for it without compromising the plans to receive tourists.”

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