Essaouira – Morocco has big ambitions for its tourist industry, with China among the sector’s key targets. However, as the Chinese market grows, so too does tension between Moroccan companies and tour companies based in China.
In 2016 Morocco announced a visa exemption for Chinese nationals, the move aimed to facilitate travel between Morocco and China and to develop economic ties.
Since lifting the visa requirement Morocco has seen a massive increase in tourists coming from China, with visits from Chinese nationals reaching 200,000 in 2018—a giant leap from the meager 10,000 travelers in 2015.
Hoping to further capitalize on the new market, in September Morocco signed a “co-marketing partnership” agreement with Ctrip, China’s largest online travel agency, to promote China-Morocco trips.
With Chinese tourists spending $120 billion on travel in 2018, the market is one Morocco is keen to cash in on. The kingdom’s Ministry of Tourism aims to reach 500,000 Chinese visitors annually.
However, Morocco’s chances of reaching the half-million mark could come to nothing if the country’s tourism industry does not learn to adapt to the specific needs of the tourists it hopes to attract.
With the influx of Chinese tourists to Morocco, the country has also seen a rise in Mandarin-speaking, non-certified tour guides operating within the tourism industry, as well as a tendency for Chinese tourists to book their Moroccan trips through Chinese agencies; meaning that much of the revenue is staying in China.
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