Morocco’s Covid Policies Work Against Creative New Tourism Pitch

Skift grip

Morocco is using its latest campaign to promote a “real experience” of the destination with a funky twist. However, campaigns like these need to be backed up by tourist-friendly policies.

Peden Doma Bhutia

Maroc Tourisme in its latest brand campaign — kingdom of light — tries to get out of the clichés and reposition the country as a modern, creative and adventurous destination. However, one campaign may not be enough to attract visitors.

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

This test is not mandatory for those arriving by ferry.

With fierce competition from Middle Eastern destinations, Morocco absolutely needs to up its game.

What discourages travelers

“The last-minute opening and closing of borders and the additional requirement for testing to enter Morocco and testing on arrival are having a chilling effect on travel agents and long-haul travellers. As a result, they choose to travel to Egypt, Turkey or Dubai instead,” said Karim Fehry Fassy, ​​co-founder and managing director of Private trade winds.

After two years of calm, Morocco is banking heavily on a summer recovery. However, having welcomed only four million tourists in 2021, the destination would need favorable policies to regain its level of 13 million tourists in 2019.

With an almost non-existent domestic market, Morocco’s travel industry is heavily dependent on international tourists and the flip-flop on opening borders over the past two years has had a devastating impact on the sector.

“While the Moroccan government’s efforts have been exemplary in handling an outbreak of this order, we would like the authorities to communicate more frequently,” Fassy said.

Underlining the importance of a transparent communication system, Fassy opened that it is essential to be in contact with feeder markets of luxury such as the United States, Canada, Latin America and certain countries of the Asia-Pacific region.

Morocco must earn the trust of its feeder markets after the two previous border closures.

The campaign: a necessary change

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

Calling the campaign a turning point in Morocco’s destination communication, Adel El Fakir, CEO of the Moroccan National Tourist Office, shared on social media, “The objective is to position Morocco among the world’s most popular destinations. coveted and reinforce its trendy image, especially among the younger generation of travellers.

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

Change was needed to attract better and sustainable tourism and this campaign is a good start, she added. “It targets a younger, more affluent customer who could stay longer, explore the country more and ultimately spend more. A returning customer.

The campaign marks a shift in narrative away from the cliched food, craft and artisanal model the destination has previously focused on.

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

From drawing parallels with Paris – the quintessential ‘city of lights’, to many observing that the music used in the campaign sounds distinctly Indian and not Moroccan, naysayers have had their say.

And after?

Others noted that Morocco should complement these campaigns with improved infrastructure, construction of green spaces, and attention to safety and hygiene.

Morocco must now focus on increasing its hotel infrastructure in cities like Tangier, Agadir, Ouarzazate, Rabat and Fez, similar to what was done in Marrakech, Fassy of Alizes Private said.

“There is also a need to develop a daily domestic air network and the authorities must work on a real strategy to develop facilities for local and international travellers,” Fassy said.

He opened that the destination’s latest campaign matches the pace of international demand.

With Morocco well positioned in terms of location and weather, Intrepid’s Bencheikh said the destination needed to promote these elements in order to attract international travellers.

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

And that’s not all, the destination has other reasons to celebrate. Two travel associations representing Europe’s largest tourism markets – Britain’s The Travel Association (ABTA) and the German Travel Association (DRV) – will both visit Morocco for their conventions this year.