Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Moroccan Tourism Update

Morocco is making a slow progress in its recovery from the tourism downturn, with some 4.2 million tourists visiting the Kingdom in the first half of 2016. This is a decrease of 2.6% compared to the same period in 2015

According to figures from  Morocco’s Tourism Office ,the number of foreign tourists was down 5.6% while arrivals of Moroccans living abroad showed an increase of 1.7%.

Tourist arrivals from the United Kingdom, Germany, France and Italy decreased by 8%, 7%, 5% and 5% respectively, while the number of tourists from Holland remained steady.

Overnight stays in tourist accommodation facilities decreased by 4% compared to the same period of 2015.

Agadir is attracting the Russians

Agadir, Morocco’s second tourist city, has shown good progress with visitors from the national market and from Russia and Algeria.

After the relative decrease of tourism in Agadir during the month of Ramadan, the city is expected to regain its usual vitality in the month of August.

In an interview with TelQuel, Fouad Hajoui, the director of the Regional Centre of Tourism (CRT) said, “In August, arrivals will probably record a rise. We hope to finish the year with an increase of 1 or 2 percent.”

Agadir received 473,000 tourists from January to July, which represents a decline of 3 percent. This decline is due to decreases as high as 20% percent of tourists from important markets such as France, England, and Belgium.

Hajaoui assures the tourist industry that the city is striving to regain its appeal to tourists who have been shunning it and turning to other Moroccan cities, such as Marrakech, which remains Morocco’s main tourist destination. “There are other markets to regain, as the French, English, and German, in decline, or the Scandinavian countries, which are moving towards Marrakech,” Hajaoui said.

The Russian market, a rising market for Moroccan tourism, also saw an important increase in July compared to the same month in 2015. 5,200 Russian tourists visited Agadir in July, which constitutes a massive increase of 420%.

Another equally crucial market according to the director of CRT is Algeria. Algeria poured around 3,000 tourists into Agadir in 2016, a rise of 40% compared to last year. This rise has urged the professionals to study the possibility of launching an air route between Algiers and Agadir.

On the other hand, the national market witnessed an upswing of 19,000 visitors in the month of July, which represents an increase of 59.3 percent compared to the same period of last year.

Agadir is not without its problems “The bed capacity is unfortunately not sufficient,” Hajoui said. “Some travellers actually spend the night on the beach or in their cars”. This is a problem also present in most Moroccan tourist destinations, such as Fez, Marrakech, Meknes and Rabat,

To alleviate this problem, the Moroccan Ministry of Tourism Vision 2020, launched in 2010, aims to increase bed capacity to 372,300 beds and attract 20 million international tourists by 2020.

Halfway towards completion of the 2020 strategy, it appears that the Ministry is on track. According to statistics provided by the Ministry, Morocco’s bed capacity increased from 97,000 beds in 2001 to more than 230,000 beds at the end of 2015.

In addition to increasing bed’s capacity, the Ministry of tourism strives to expand the tourism market in China and North America and assist this by Morocco seeking to increase the number of flights between the target countries and the Kingdom’s main tourist destinations, such as Marrakech, Fez, Agadir, Rabat.

At the same time, Morocco’s Ministry of Tourism’s ranking system for tourist accommodations is being revised.

To ensure quality tourist services that meet the expectations of customers and to distinguish between different levels of tourist accommodation, the government implemented a ranking system in 2002.

Participation in the ranking system is mandatory for tourist establishments and although applying nationally, the scheme has been administered regionally since 2002.

The ranking system is divided into three sections: the ranking scope, the ranking device, and the ranking repository.

The Ministry of Tourism distinguishes between 14 types of tourist establishments: hotel, motel, hotel residence, residential real estate tourism for promotion, hotel-club, hostel, guest house, home, centre or convention centre, bivouac, and tourist restaurant. Each type may include one or more categories.

The tourist establishment ranking system assignes a classification according to a star system (1 *, 2 *, 3 *, 4 *, 5 *) and categories (1st class, 2nd class …).

The system allows tourist establishments to comply with the ranking standards and benefit from a range of competitive advantages, allowing them to enhance the quality of their services and their competitiveness at national and international levels.

Tourist establishments benefit from marketing, publicity and public relations activities conducted by the Moroccan National Tourist Office and the Regional and Provincial Centre of Tourism, with the opportunity to participate in a wide range of fairs and exhibitions in Morocco and abroad. They can also become better known by being listed in the official guides.


Saturday, August 20, 2016

Fez to Bordeaux Direct Flights Announced

The airline company Air Arabia announced on Friday the launch of a new connection, Fès-Bordeaux. This long-awaited route will begin service from December 03, 2016

This is Air Arabia's fourth destination offered from the airport of Fez. The flight will be operated by Airbus A320 aircraft and available twice a week on Monday and Saturday.

Confirming its commitment to provide enhanced connectivity between Morocco and Europe, Air Arabia Morocco this year launched the first direct flights from Toulouse to Fez and pointed out that these new services reflect the continued support that the company provides for the development of tourism in Morocco.

It is hoped the new Bordeaux service will assist in promoting Moroccan tourism which has been quiet since attacks in France, Germany and Turkey.

The fares are expected to be reasonable and today bookings were available at only 148 Euros return.

In other parts of the country the tourist numbers are showing improvement.

Agadir rebounded in July, registering an increase of 26 pc in terms of tourist arrivals, with a total of 104,814 tourists visiting in against 83,308 in July 2015.

Agadir tourism improves

These figures reflect increases in some major source markets. The German market increased by 38 pc, from 4 179 in July 2015 reached 5,800 arrivals in July, 2016.

The big increase is in the Russian market, with a jump of 468 per cent, from 1,105 in July 2015 to 5,180 arrivals in July, 2016.

The Russians continue to be fascinated by Morocco, with Russian visitors to The View From Fez reaching over 11,000 in the last month alone. This figure puts them ahead of the USA (10,000 visits). French visitors continue to drop and are now around 3,000 per month.


Friday, August 19, 2016

Major Upgrade for the Moulay Yacoub Spa

Following agreements signed in Fez, Vichy International will provide outsourced management of the Moulay Yacoub spa from January 2018 for a period of 10 years. The investment of some 261 million dirhams will upgrade the spa to international standards and hopefully boost tourism in the area
It was time for an upgrade

The Moulay Yacoub spa, just 21 km northwest of  Fez, has been known for hundreds of years for the healing properties of its thermal waters. The origin of the spa's name is unclear. One version is that the village was named either after Sultan Moulay Yacoub Ben Mansour who was cured after his first bath.  Another version claims the name to be a corruption of Aquae Juba, the spring of a local Berber king, Juba, who was envious of Roman hot baths. Either way, the hillside village’s fame is founded on its sulphur-rich spa waters, which are pumped from some 1500m below ground and reach temperatures of around 54˚C.

The spa is visited most often by people with rheumatism and respiratory problems, or those simply wanting to indulge in relaxation. However, over the years the spa has been showing its age and it is hoped that the improvements will give it a new lease of life.

A model of the proposed hotel

Amongst the additions and improvements will be the new Vichy Thermalia Spa Hotel, being built with an investment of 169 million dirhams. Works started in March and will hopefully be completed by December 2017. The upgrade of the spa should also be completed at the same time.

With an area of 14,000 m2,  the new four star hotel will have 93 rooms and 7 suites, all supplied with thermal water. The hotel will also include three restaurants, a children's club, a fitness room, an outdoor pool and gift shops for Vichy and L'Oreal products.

One of the new pools

During the construction of the new building for the thermal baths and renovation of the traditional Hammam and thermal pools, parts of the spa will be closed until the end of 2017. Other areas will remain open to allow visitors access to the thermal pools. The new areas will include treatment baths with Jacuzzi, 1 care bath with underwater massage, 2 swimming pools with a diameter of 15 m each, 1 pool for men, 1 pool for women, a premium pool of 75 m2, and 2 steam rooms, one for women and one for men.

A subsidiary of Compagnie de Vichy (founded in 1853) has signed a management contract for the Hotel Vichy Thermalia Spa and resort of Moulay Yacoub, with the leaders of the Cothermy (Thermo-Medical Company of My Yacoub), a subsidiary of CDG Development.

Jerome Phelipeau and Karim Jennane

The agreement was initialed in Fez by Mohammed Karim Jennane, director general manager Cothermy, as hotel owner and modern baths and Jerome Phelipeau, CEO of Vichy Spa International.

With the power of Vichy International behind the venture it is expected that the enterprise will be heavily marketed in Europe as an international spa destination.

What is unclear is how much it will cost locals who have traditionally been the main clients of the spa. At present they pay around 55 dirhams to bathe at the spa.


Friday, August 12, 2016

Morocco's Scorpion Problem

For over twenty years Morocco has been tackling the problem of scorpions in the south of the country. The recent death of a young boy from the village of Tamri, 30 kilometres from Agadir, highlights the need for ongoing education and a quicker medical response

In the latest incident the boy's father called for an ambulance but was told it did not have enough petrol for the journey. Eventually the father raised the money for fuel but on arrival at the hospital Hassan II in Agadir, some reports claim that admission was delayed because of a lack of the father's ID.

Whatever the truth, the boy died. According to health officials there are around 30,000 scorpion bites reported each year with a third of them in the Marrakech region. Over 80% of the bites occur inside houses at night between May and September.

In nine out of ten cases the bites are only mild as of the 30 species of scorpions found in Morocco, only one can cause fatalities. Statistics suggest that out of some 3,000 bites this year, 500 have required intensive care treatment.


The 9th Women's Voice Festival in Tetouan

The 9th Women's Voice Festival (Voix de Femmes) in Tetouan, runs from the 18th to 20th of August and celebrates the Moroccan female artistic heritage

This year Women's Voice honours two icons, the great diva Naima Samih for her exceptional career in Morocco and Nadia Ayoub, a star on the national and Arabic music scene.

Naima Samih 

Naima Samih was born in 1953 in Derb Sultan, Casablanca, into a Saharawi family of thirteen children. Naima Samih started singing at the age of nine. She has produced some very popular albums including Jrit ou jarit, Latloumounich and Yaka Jerhi.

The festival will be attended by world famous Moroccan singers Latefa Raefat and Dounia Batma, Daoudia as well as local emerging artists, Zineb Oussama, former candidate of the Arabic Star Academy.

Besides the musical side of this festival, social actions are carried out each year with the help of volunteers who have assisted thousands of people since the first festival in 2008.

This year  the "Operation Health for All" will take place on the 19th and 20th of August. The campaign, led by the Moroccan Association for the Protection of Health of Orphans, in collaboration with the Women's Voice Association and volunteer doctors, will benefit nearly 1,500 women, children and elderly people in a precarious situation Tetouan.

Other actions include a lunch for residents of the Prison for Women in Tetouan and actions to improve the living conditions of the residents of Sidi Frij residence for the elderly of Tetouan.

On the artisan side, a market "Over Time" will be held from the 16th to 20th of August to promote local products and local crafts made by women members of cooperatives from the North of Morocco.