Threatened with bankruptcy because of the closure of the borders, Moroccan tour operators called on Tuesday in Rabat to “save” tourism, a vital sector of the kingdom’s economy, which has almost come to a standstill following the resumption of the pandemic of coronavirus.
About 200 professionals representing travel agencies demonstrated in front of the headquarters of the Ministry of Tourism to demand support measures for their activities and a reopening of borders. “Have mercy on the economy and the people” read a sign. Both bosses and employees of tour operators have also called for the opening of a dialogue with the authorities in the face of “the dramatic collapse” of the sector since the start of the pandemic.
“Other countries took advantage” of the situation
All passenger flights to and from Morocco have been suspended since November 29 and at least until January 31 due to the outbreak of the Omicron variant. “The latest border closure is a fatal blow, other competing countries have taken advantage of it, such as Turkey, Egypt or the Emirates,” lamented Raja Ould Hamada, owner of a travel agency in Marrakech.
“We did not receive any support, neither material nor moral. We ask the officials of the ministry to listen to us and to hear our difficulties, “she pleaded, worrying about” the destabilization and loss of credibility of the (Moroccan) sector with international airlines and investors. foreigners ”.
” What does the government do ? “
“Everyone knows that the situation is catastrophic! The question is : What does the government do ? “, Added Lahcen Zelmat, president of the National Federation of the hotel industry. The Federation asks “the postponement of bank loans and the assumption of responsibility of the interests by the State and especially that one lets us work by reopening the borders”, he detailed.
Faced with criticism, Tourism Minister Fatima-Zahra Ammor has pledged to urgently apply a vast support plan. Monthly aid of 2,000 dirhams (around 190 euros) has been promised to employees in the sector for the last quarter of 2021.
Under the effect of the restrictions, the losses of the tourism sector have been estimated at “at least one billion dirhams” for the end of year holiday season, according to an operator quoted last month by the economic information site Medias24 . The authorities justify these drastic measures “to preserve Morocco’s achievements in the fight against the pandemic”.