Morocco Post-Pandemic: How a Key African Travel Destination is Recovering
As global travel ramps back up, Morocco post-pandemic is successfully rebuilding its crucial tourism industry after the challenges of COVID-19 through health initiatives, traveler incentives and promoting diverse destinations.
- Implementing Health and Safety Measures
- Travel Trends and Tourist Sentiment
- Recovery Status of Key Destinations
- Strategies for Enduring Impact on Communities
- Promoting Sustainable and Diverse Experiences
- Outlook for Tourism Rebound
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As the first African country to reopen tourism after COVID-19’s devastating blow, Morocco has worked strategically to recover one of its most economically essential industries. By implementing rigorous health protocols, promoting diverse destinations beyond marquee cities, and coordinating relief for impacted communities, Morocco aims to rebuild travel stronger and more sustainably.
Prior to the pandemic, Morocco welcomed over 12 million annual visitors drawn by cities like Marrakech and natural wonders like the Sahara. Border closures in early 2020 brought tourism to a standstill, costing an estimated $1.4 billion in lost revenue and 400,000 jobs.
But bold actions to protect locals while attracting travelers back are working. Although recovery is gradual and uneven across regions, Morocco is successfully reviving its lifeblood while enhancing experiences. “Traveling to Morocco has changed, but its heart and soul remain the same,” said Director of Tourism Adel El Fakir.
This article will analyze Morocco’s initiatives ensuring a safe, community-centric resurgence of tourism. While the road ahead has challenges, Morocco’s proactive resilience plants seeds for transforming the industry to endure future crises.
Implementing Health and Safety Measures
Morocco has instituted several protocols to protect citizens and rebuild traveler confidence:
- Mandatory vaccine passports and pre-trip PCR tests are no longer required for entry.
- Enhanced sanitation, capacity limits, and mask mandates for hotels, transport, and sites.
- COVID insurance coverage no longer required as part of all tourist visas.
- Widespread training and implementation of WTTC “Safe Travels” standards.
Rules are adjusted based on local conditions and emerging variants, balancing both safety and economic needs.
Travel Trends and Tourist Sentiment
Surveys reveal positive traveler attitudes towards visiting Morocco:
- Over 90% of tourists reported feeling safe with Morocco’s entry and on-site protocols.
- Travelers cite reputable brands like Hyatt and Hilton entering Morocco as reassurance.
- Increased interest in less crowded areas like the Atlas Mountains and Sahara Desert.
Yet tourism remains around 30% below pre-pandemic levels, showing a steady path to full recovery.
Recovery Status of Key Destinations
Rebound has been robust in marquee cities but slower elsewhere:
- Marrakech recovered over 80% of pre-COVID tourism numbers as of mid-2022.
- Rural areas heavily dependent on foreign tourism like the desert and Atlas Mountains are improving but still suffering losses.
- Cruise ships are returning to Casablanca, Tangier and Agadir’s ports, a positive indicator.
Strategies for Enduring Impact on Communities
Morocco has taken steps to support local communities through recovery:
- Ensuring equitable vaccine access for tourism staff and vulnerable groups.
- Establishing a $275 million tourism relief fund for impacted businesses.
- Training programs helping 200,000+ workers gain credentials in new health protocols.
- Focus on keeping tourism revenue within local hands through promotion of small businesses.
Promoting Sustainable and Diverse Experiences
Morocco is leveraging COVID recovery to expand sustainable tourism:
- Growing interest in rural destinations like Chefchaouen spreads benefits beyond big cities.
- Outdoor, wellness, adventure options are being emphasized over mass tourism.
- Community-based and eco-tours are rising in popularity with tourists.
Outlook for Tourism Rebound
If vigilance around emerging variants continues, experts predict:
- Morocco reached 70-80% of pre-pandemic tourism levels by end of 2022.
- Potential to exceed 2019 highs by 2023 as borders remain open.
- Opportunity to rebuild tourism as more sustainable and dispersed than before.
As the first African nation to restart tourism amidst COVID-19, Morocco’s strategic health, economic, and promotional initiatives provide a model for resilient recovery. Strict protocols have given travelers confidence to return, while targeted community aid and training ensures locals also benefit from tourism’s revival.
By taking the opportunity to diversify beyond crowded hubs and encourage small businesses, Morocco is building back tourism to be sustainable as well as lucrative. Though the road is long and challenges remain, Morocco’s proactive approach plants seeds of enduring change.
While the pandemic delivered an undeniable shock, visionary actions are allowing Morocco’s travel industry to bounce back stronger. “Every crisis contains an opportunity” as the Moroccan proverb says. With borders staying open and vigilance remaining, a rebound driven by community-centric values could cement Morocco as a leader in African and global tourism for decades to come.
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Yes, Morocco reopened its borders to international tourism in June 2020 with new health and safety protocols in place. Testing and vaccine requirements are adjusted based on conditions.
Morocco requires a vaccine passport, negative PCR test within 72 hours of departure, proof of travel insurance coverage, completed health form, and adherence to mask wearing and social distancing rules.
Morocco lost an estimated $1.4 billion in tourism revenue and 400,000 related jobs due to border closures in 2020. Recovery is steady but remains around 30% below pre-pandemic levels as of mid-2022.
Popular hubs like Marrakech have recovered over 80% of pre-COVID tourism. Rural areas are bouncing back slower. Cruise ships are returning to Agadir, Casablanca and Tangier.
If vigilance continues, experts predict reaching 70-80% of pre-COVID numbers by end of 2022 and potential to exceed 2019 levels by 2023 as borders stay open. There is also opportunity to build back more sustainably.
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