Tourism in Morocco

Tourism in Morocco

Tourism in Morocco is well developed, with a strong tourist industry focused on the country's coast, culture, and history. Most of Morocco's tourists are European.

Tourist numbers

Morocco has been one of the most politically stable countries in North Africa, which has allowed tourism to develop. The Moroccan government created a Ministry of Tourism in 1985.cite book |title=Geography of Travel & Tourism |last=Hudman |first=Lloyd E. |url= |year=2002 |publisher=Thomson Delmar Learning |isbn=0766832562 |pages=367 ] In the second half of the 1980s and the early 1990s, between 1 and 1.5 million Europeans visited Morocco. Most of these visitors were French or Spanish, with about 100,000 each from Britain, Germany, and the Netherlands. Tourists mostly visited large beach resorts along the Atlantic coast, particularly Agadir. About 20,000 people from Saudi Arabia visited, some of who bought holiday homes. Receipts from tourism fell by 16.5% in 1990, the year the Gulf War began.cite book |title=Morocco Since 1830: A History |last=Pennell |first=C.R. |url= |year=2000 |publisher=C. Hurst & Co |isbn=1850652732 |pages=358 ] In 1994, Morocco closed its border with Algeria after an attack on a hotel in Marrakech. This caused the number of Algerian visitors to fall considerably; there were 70,000 visitors in 1994 and 13,000 in 1995, compared to 1.66 million in 1992 and 1.28 million in 1993.cite book |title=Geography, environment and development in the Mediterranean |last=King |first=Russell |coauthors=Paolo De Mas, J. Mansvelt-Beck |year=2001 |publisher=Sussex Academic Press |isbn=1898723893 |pages=174 ] In 2007 there were almost 7.4 million tourist arrivals, compared with about 1.6 million in 1996. Tourist receipts in 2007 totalled US$7,55 billion.cite book |title=The Middle East and North Africa 2003 |last= |first= |authorlink= |coauthors= |year=2002 |publisher=Europa Publications, Routledge |location= |isbn=1857431324 |pages=863 ] As of 2007, tourism accounts for 8% of Morocco's Gross Domestic Product (GDP).French continue to top the list with 2.85 million tourists, followed by the Spaniards (1.6Mn), the Belgians (431,000), the British (419,000), the Italians (370,000), the Dutch (361.000), and the Germans (296,000

Tourism is the second largest foreign exchange earner in Morocco, after the phosphate industry. Many of the country's more than 3.8 million annual visitors are Moroccans living abroad. Most of the visitors to Morocco continue to be European, with French people making up almost 20% of its all its visitors. Most Europeans visit in April and the autumn, apart from the Spanish, who mostly visit in June and August. The Moroccan government is heavily investing in tourism development. A new tourism strategy called Vision 2010 was developed after the accession of King Mohammed VI in 1999. The government has targeted that Morocco will have 10 million visitors by 2010, with the hope that tourism will then have risen to 20% of GDP. A large government sponsored marketing campaigns to attract tourists advertised Morocco as a cheap and exotic, yet safe, place for European tourists.

Morocco's relatively high amount of tourists has been aided by its location, tourist attractions, and relatively low price. Cruise ships visit the ports of Casablanca and Tangier. Morocco is close to Europe and attracts visitors to its beaches. Because of its proximity to Spain, tourists in southern Spain's coastal areas take one- to three-day trips to Morocco. Since the Algeria-Morocco border has opened and air services between the two countries have been established, many Algerians have gone to Morocco to shop and visit family and friends. Morocco is relatively inexpensive because of the devaluation of the dirham and the increase of hotel prices in Spain. Morocco has an excellent road and rail infrastructure that links the major cities and tourist destinations with ports and cities with international airports. Low-cost airlines offer cheap flights to the country.

Tourist attractions

While Morocco was a French Protectorate (from 1912 to 1956) tourism was focused on urban areas such as the Mediterranean cities of Tangier and Casablanca. Tangier attracted many writers, such as Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs. There was a period of beach resort development at places such as Agadir on the Atlantic coast in the 1970s and 1980s.

Tourism is increasingly focused on Morocco's culture, such as its ancient cities. The modern tourist industry capitalizes on Morocco's ancient Roman and Islamic sites, and on its landscape and cultural history. 60% of Morocco's tourists visit for its culture and heritage. The country's attractions can be divided into seven regions: Tangier and the surrounding area; Agadir and its beach resorts; Marrakech; Casablanca; the Imperial cities; Ouarzazate; and Tarfaya and its beach resorts.

Agadir is a major coastal resort and has a third of all Moroccan bed nights. It is a base for tours to the Atlas Mountains. Other resorts in north Morocco are also very popular. Casablanca is the major cruise port in Morocco, and has the best developed market for tourists in Morocco.

Marrakech in central Morocco is a popular tourist destination, but is more popular among tourists for one- and two-day excursions that provide a taste of Morocco's history and culture. The Majorelle botanical garden in Marrakech is a popular tourist attraction. It was bought by the fashion designer Yves Saint-Laurent and Pierre Bergé in 1980. Their presence in the city helped to boost the city's profile as a tourist destination. [cite news |first= |last= Reuters |title=Yves Saint Laurent's Ashes Scattered In Marrakesh |url= |work=The New York Times |date=2008-06-11 |accessdate=2008-06-14 ]

As of 2006, activity and adventure tourism in the Atlas and Rif Mountains are the fastest growth area in Moroccan tourism. These locations have excellent walking and trekking opportunities from late March to mid-November. The government is investing in trekking circuits. They are also developing desert tourism in competition with Tunisia.cite book |title=Atlas of Travel And Tourism Development |last=Shackley |first=Myra |url= |year=2006 |publisher=Butterworth-Heinemann |isbn=0750663480 |pages=43-44 ]


External links

* [ Tangerine dream: searching for the spirit of Tangiers,] "The Guardian".

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