After 5 chaotic years, the sector shows a decline of 40 years (Bouhout)

Slowly, but surely, the tourism sector is gradually picking up in Morocco, after two years of health crisis due to Covid-19 which gave the sector a knockout blow. While some tourism operators in Morocco, and in some regions, were able to breathe a little after the pandemic, others have not recovered from the crisis.

Indeed, in an analysis delivered to MoroccoLatestNews UKZoubir Bouhout, expert and analyst in the tourism sector, examines the situation of the destination Ouarzazate, renowned for its paradisiacal landscapes and its filming sites for world-famous films and series, which continues to live in a structural crisis following the problems which have accelerated since 2018 as well as the worsening of the situation in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic.

In 2022 tourism was still struggling to take off in Ouarzazate and the sector is still in danger. The reasons for this crisis are multiple and are due in particular to air and land isolation, the lack of attractiveness of investments, as well as the acceleration of hotel closures, in addition to the absence or weakness of budgets. promotional“, explains the expert in his analysis.

The scene set, Bouhout continues that the tourism sector continues to record worrying declines which could reach – 64%, in terms of volume of overnight stays during the year 2022 compared to the year 2019, knowing that the statistics available until the first 10 months of 2022 indicate a percentage drop of – 65% for the number of arrivals and – 61% for overnight stays recorded in classified establishments, compared to the same period in 2019, underlines- he.

As a result, this professional in the field estimates that in 2022, Ouarzazate will have completed the worst 5 years in the history of the sector (2018-2022), the same for other sectors such as cinema or health, ” which makes it go back about 40 years to find the levels recorded during the eighties“, deplores the expert.

Several factors are at the root of this crisis, in particular Covid-19, since the number of overnight stays fell from 380,000 in 2019 to 71,607. only in 2020, i.e. – 81% (-72% nationally).

Ouarzazate did not benefit from the 2021 recovery

Moreover, he continues, “Ouarzazate did not benefit well from the recovery of 2021, the number of overnight stays only increased by 6%, while the growth rate was around 32% nationally. Furthermore, the recovery rate during 2022 compared to 2019 is around 34% for Ouarzazate, which is less than half of the rate recorded at the national level, which will be around 73%”.

In detail, Bouhout notes that in the first ten months of 2022, tourist activity in Ouarzazate saw a dramatic decline in all markets, compared to the same period in 2019. The French market fell by – 62%, the Italian market – 66%, the Spanish market – 75%, the English market – 79%, while the German market recorded a drop of – 88%.

As a result, the crisis due to covid-19 cannot be taken for granted. only responsible for failures in this vital sector. By referring to the performance of the sector before this crisis, we can understand the reasons for this setback. In 2017, Ouarzazate recorded the second highest growth rate in the number of overnight stays (+37%), more than double the growth rate of overnight stays recorded at the national level (+15%). However, with the start of 2018, signs of a downturn began to appear and the growth rate of overnight stays in Ouarzazate which was +37% in 2017 fell to only +4% in 2018 when the growth rate increased. reached +8% at the national level »explains the expert.

The situation will go from worse to worse for the actors of the sector in 2019, notes Bouhout, noting that the indicators will decline at all levels, by recording in particular – 8% in volume of overnight stays compared to the previous year, while that a growth rate of + 5% was recorded at the national level.

Thus, Ouarzazate, which in 2017 challenged for first place in terms of growth in overnight stays (+37%), has become a disaster area recording a decline (- 8% in 2019), explains Bouhout, before specifying that the Covid crisis -19 has only worsened an already compromised situation whose causes date back to 2018.

No serious initiative from local officials

All of these problems have led, according to the tourism expert, to an acceleration in the rate of closure of tourist establishments over the past year (5 establishments) and the total number of establishments closed has exceeded 20 units.

In addition, Zoubir Bouhout underlines the fact that no serious initiative has been recorded on the part of local officials to remedy this deficiency (closures and drastic drop in accommodation capacity), while investors who have expressed their intention to engage have suffered either indifference or unjustified rejection of their projects, he laments, noting that real development opportunities have been wasted by wasting time formulating innocuous programs on paper, without impact tangible on local development.

Ouarzazate needs concerted efforts involving the various actors and active forces as well as serious fieldwork according to a genuine participatory approach. Also, a meticulous audit and examination by whom it may concern would succeed in elucidating this chaotic situation and the reasons for this failure, far from the glowing reports and accounts of rhetorical phrases without any connection with the reality of Ouarzazate and whose one and only goal is to obtain individual gains at the expense of the population of Ouarzazate as well as its main vital sector which is tourism in addition to other sectors, in particular the cinema or the health sector”pleads Bouhout.

He recalls, in this sense, that tourism operators and active civil society actors had already sent distress messages to save Ouarzazate. An open letter was also sent to the head of government and the interior minister, asking them to intervene urgently to save the region, he said.

But not only ! The Associative Fabric of Ouarzazate for Development had previously issued a statement where it expressed its concern about the social, economic and cultural conditions of the city, stressing that after the repercussions of the pandemic, Ouarzazate continues to experience significant setbacks in various levels, particularly in terms of the deficit in terms of connectivity, low investment attractiveness and the series closure of hotel establishments as well as the decline in cinema activity.

The associative fabric also reported that Ouarzazate continues to experience a slump with the concealment of many radiant activities which expressed the cultural, artistic and rewarding face of the city and the region, recalls Bouhout.

To conclude, and while waiting for serious initiatives that would put Ouarzazate back on its true path of development, Bouhout maintains that the population is still waiting for a gesture from the government and central officials to save the city and ensure that the experience of Ouarzazate is not more reproduced to avoid any future suffering of the populations of other cities of the country.

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