Threatened with bankruptcy due to border closures, Moroccan tour operators called for ” to save “ tourism, a vital sector of the kingdom’s economy, almost at a standstill following the resumption of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Tuesday, January 4 in Rabat, around 200 professionals representing travel agencies demonstrated in front of the headquarters of the tourism ministry to demand measures to support their activities and a reopening of borders, AFP journalists noted. Both bosses and employees of tour operators also demanded the opening of a dialogue with the authorities in the face of “The dramatic collapse” sector since the start of the pandemic. “Have mercy on the economy and the people”, could we read on a sign.
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 benefited from it, such as Turkey, Egypt or the Emirates ”, laments to AFP Raja Ould Hamada, owner of a travel agency in Marrakech. “We did not receive any support, neither material nor moral. We ask those in charge of the ministry to listen to us and to hear our difficulties ”, she pleads, worrying about “The destabilization and loss of credibility of the sector with international airlines and foreign investors”.
” What does the government do ? “
“Everyone knows that the situation is catastrophic! The question is: what is the government doing? “, added to AFP Lahcen Zelmat, president of the National Federation of the hotel industry. This one asks “The postponement of bank loans and the assumption of interest by the State, and above all that we are allowed to work by reopening the borders”, he explains. Faced with criticism, the Minister of Tourism, Fatima-Zahra Ammor, 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.
As a result of the restrictions, losses in the tourism sector have been estimated at “At least 1 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”.
To not miss anything on African news, subscribe to the newsletter of World Africa from this link. Every Saturday at 6 a.m., find a week of current events and debates treated by the editorial staff of World Africa.