Several major factors influenced the performance of the travel and tourism industry in Morocco in 2011. The uprising in the Middle East, the bombing in the city of Marrakech and the EuroZone crisis all contributed to a rather sluggish year for the country’s tourism industry. Tourism accounts for nearly 10% of GDP and one tenth of the country’s workforce.
Marginal Growth in Arrivals in 2011
Morocco avoided violent social turmoil during the 2011 Arab Spring which saw protests across the Arab world and the overthrow of governments in Tunisia and Egypt. The economy is largely driven by domestic demand, a characteristic which helped Morocco avoid the worst of the global recession.
In 2011, the total number of tourist arrivals in terms of number of trips reached 9.3 million, equating to a marginal rise of 0.3% on 2010. Morocco’s top three source markets for tourism in 2011 continued to be France, Spain and Germany.
Top European performers
France is an important expatriate market for Moroccans and many emigrants commute to Morocco on a regular basis, which led to arrivals from France reaching 3.4 million in 2011.
Spain, the second-largest inbound market, recorded 2.1 million tourist arrivals in terms of number of trips in 2011. The country is an important source market mainly due to its location and proximity to Morocco. In 2011, Morocco developed promotional campaigns to target Spanish tourism operators.
The third largest source market for incoming tourism was Germany. Communication and promotional efforts in the German market have been on the rise in recent years. The launch of new direct flights linking Marrakech and Agadir to major German cities from Morocco’s flag carrier RAM also contributed to growth in arrivals from Germany.
Morocco International Arrivals by Key Source Countries 2010/2011
Source: Euromonitor International
The number of trips to Morocco is expected to grow at a 2% CAGR to reach 11 million by 2016, a forecast downgraded by Euromonitor International due to growing economic tensions in Europe, the onset of the Arab Spring and some internal political changes.
Morocco is nonetheless a very promising tourism destination, and the government’s strong commitment to developing the industry will further remain a key driver of international investment, which will help to attract more tourists.