Morocco’s Covid Policies Work Against New Creative Tourism Argument

quick take

Morocco uses its latest campaign to promote a “true experience” of the destination with a funky twist. However, campaigns like these must be backed by tourist-friendly policies.

Peden Doma Butia

Morocco Tourism in its latest brand campaign, Kingdom of Light, tries to move away from clichés and reposition the country as a modern, creative and adventurous destination. However, one campaign might not be enough to attract visitors.

Morocco still requires passengers to test negative for Covid within 48 hours of arrival and then again at the airport on arrival. And maybe even be randomly selected for additional PCR testing.

This test is not required for those arriving by ferry.

With stiff competition coming from Middle Eastern destinations, Morocco definitely needs to up its game.

What deters travelers

“The last-minute opening and closing of borders and the additional requirement for tests to enter Morocco and tests on arrival act as deterrents for travel agents and long-distance travelers. As a result, they choose to travel to Egypt, Turkey or Dubai,” said Karim Fehry Fassy, ​​co-founder and CEO of Alizes Private.

After two years of calm, Morocco is strongly confident of a summer recovery. However, having only received four million tourists in 2021, the destination would need favorable policies to return to its 2019 levels of 13 million tourists.

With the domestic market almost non-existent, the travel industry in Morocco relies heavily on international tourists and the radical change in the opening of borders in the last two years has had a devastating impact on the sector.

“While the efforts of the Moroccan government have been exemplary in managing such an unprecedented pandemic, we would like the authorities to communicate more frequently,” Fassy said.

Underlining the importance of a transparent communication system, Fassy said that it is essential to be in contact with luxury food markets such as the US, Canada, Latin America and some countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

Morocco needs to win the trust of its secondary markets after the two previous border closures.

The campaign: a much-needed change

Launched just in time for summer travel, the new campaign complements Morocco’s ambitious rebranding scheme to strengthen its position as a global player on the world luxury map.

Calling the campaign a turning point in the communication of the Morocco destination, Adel El Fakir, CEO of the Moroccan National Tourism Office, shared on social media: “The goal is to position Morocco among the most coveted global destinations and strengthen its fashion image, especially among the younger generation of travellers”.

Morocco has suffered for many years with its image as a low-budget destination, especially from European markets, said Zina Bencheikh, managing director for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at Intrepid Travel.

Change was needed to attract better quality and sustainable tourism, and this campaign is a great start, he added. “It targets a younger, wealthier customer who could stay longer, explore more of the country, and ultimately spend more. A client that will come back.”

The campaign marks a shift in narrative away from the clichéd culinary, craft, and craft model that the destination previously focused on.

However, some social media responses to the campaign have been dismissive.

From the parallels being drawn with Paris, the quintessential “city of lights,” to many noting that the music used in the campaign sounds distinctly Indian and not Moroccan, critics have had their say.

Whats Next?

Others have pointed out that Morocco should complement such campaigns with infrastructure improvements, the construction of green spaces, and attention to safety and hygiene.

Morocco now needs to focus on increasing its hotel infrastructure in cities such as Tangier, Agadir, Ouarzazate, Rabat and Fes, similar to what was done in Marrakech, said Alizes Private’s Fassy.

“It is also necessary to develop a national daily air network and the authorities must work on a real strategy to develop entertainment facilities for local and international travellers,” said Fassy.

He believed that the destination’s latest campaign is on par with international demand.

Since Morocco is well positioned in terms of location and climate, Intrepid’s Bencheikh said the destination needs to promote these elements to attract international travelers.

However, now that the borders have been reopened, the recovery is going well, he said. “At Intrepid, Morocco is our best-selling destination in the UK, EU and US markets and features in our top three destinations list globally.”

And that’s not all, fate has more reasons to rejoice. Two travel associations representing Europe’s largest tourism markets, the Great Britain Travel Association (ABTA) and the German Travel Association (DRV), will travel to Morocco for their conventions this year.

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