The Ministry of Tourism has drafted a new plan to protect the Moroccan tourism sector from the effects of the global economic crisis, with just one year to go before the goal of attracting 10 million tourists by 2010 is achieved. Visitor numbers for 2008 are expected to rise by 7% to 7.9 million.

The new plan – called CAP 2009 – is aimed at keeping Morocco attractive to tourists, said Minister of Tourism and Crafts Mohamed Boussaid. A raft of concrete new strategic measures has been adopted to anticipate and limit the impact of the global financial and economic situation on the sector, he explained. The plan was approved at a cabinet meeting held on December 17th and announced publicly on December 23rd.

In 2009 Morocco plans to do far better than the global average. The World Tourism Organisation (WTO) has forecast that growth in global demand for tourism in 2009 will be 0%, as compared with 2% in 2008. The Ministry is hoping to retain its current market share in traditional outbound markets and conquer new markets.

Marrakech, Fes, Casablanca and Agadir have been identified as priority regions. Efforts to promote Morocco will be aimed at Europe, the Gulf region and Russia. The plan includes efforts to develop domestic tourism, boost Morocco’s image, encourage tourist loyalty and maintain investments in tourism.

CAP 2009 is also aimed at keeping Morocco attractive to tourists by boosting operators’ confidence in large-scale projects and maintaining current levels of investment.

This will enable Morocco to preserve its market share in foreign outbound markets through increased communication and close contact with tour operators, the media and Internet websites.

Boussaid believes that Morocco has a number of advantages as a tourist destination. “Morocco is a nearby destination for European travellers in particular and offers a high-quality product, attractive prices and short vacation packages,” he said.

The president of the Tourism Monitoring Centre, Kamel Bensouda, says that hasty decisions and action must be avoided at all costs.

CAP 2009 will be funded by a budget increase of 10% (50 million dirhams) in the 2009 budget. The president of the Casablanca Regional Tourism Council, Said Mouhid, explains that this budget will make it possible to work towards specific targets, in particular entry to new markets.

The chief executive of the Moroccan National Tourism Office, Abdelhamid Addou, says that Royal Air Maroc (RAM) and the National Airports Authority (ONDA) must play their part in implementing CAP 2009. “The ONDA has announced adjustments to airport taxes on chartered flights. We have also always counted on the support of RAM with specific actions in certain outbound markets,” he said.

All of the planned measures were drafted in agreement with the Ministry of Tourism and Crafts, the Moroccan National Tourism Office (ONMT), National Tourism Federation (FNT), Tourism Monitoring Centre and Regional Tourism Centres to respond to the possible consequences of the global situation.