- The Moroccan government today confirmed earlier signals of a record tourism season. According to new government statistics, foreign tourist arrivals have increased by 19 percent the first half of this year compared to the same period last year. North Africa as a whole has seen strong growth as a destination this year.
The significant growth of 19 percent in foreign arrivals has now been confirmed by Morocco's Tourism Minister. The statistical confirmation follows earlier reports of a strong growth of the tourism sector in North Africa this year, published by European charter companies jetting tourists to the region.
The new figures were presented today by Moroccan Minister of Tourism, Handicraft and Social Economy, Adil Douiri. The Minister said that 3.16 million tourists had visited the country during the first half of 2004. The largest numbers of foreign tourists were nationals of France - many of whom being ethnic Moroccans - followed by Spanish, German and British nationals.
Only in the month of July, the number of arrivals reached the record level of 1.2 million tourists. This represented an increase of 17 percent compared to July 2003, according to Minister Douiri. The Tourism Minister presented the positive statistics at a workshop for the tourism sector headed by Moroccan King Mohammed VI.
After several difficult years following the increase in terrorism, the North African region is currently developing into the winner among the many competing tourist destinations this season. Alone the German charter giant TUI, Europe's largest holiday broker, earlier this season announced a growth of between 34 and 161 percent in its bookings for the destinations Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco. Egypt had noted the largest growth.
Morocco, for its part, after 11 September has had the double burden of last year's terrorist attacks on Casablanca and being set in connection with this year's terrorist attack in Madrid (Spain). The 34 percent increase noted by TUI and the 19 percent growth in tourist arrivals registered by Moroccan authorities signal a strong recovery of Morocco's tourism sector and an unexpectedly solid result for the industry.
Meanwhile, the Moroccan tourism industry continues to prepare for its objective of accommodating some ten million tourists annually by 2010. The government and private investors are engaged in a large number of giant projects to reach this goal. Only next year, authorities foresee the finalisation of seven new hotel complexes in Casablanca, El-Jadida, Essaouira, Marrakech, Ouarzazate and Tangier.
Morocco with its Atlantic and Mediterranean cost strongly benefits from its location close to the European continent. Just north of Morocco lies Europe's largest tourist zone, Spain's Costa del Sol, and just south-west of Morocco lies the most popular winter resort for European tourists, the Spanish Canary Islands. Morocco hopes to copy Spain's tourism successes.
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