Tourism: travel is in full swing!

After the brutal shock of 2020 and the ensuing disruptions in 2021, tour operator business appears to be regaining full strength, with sales peaking at levels that even exceed the pre-crisis period. Although the specter of inflationary pressures continues to hang over the prices of both airline tickets and hotel nights, demand is steadily climbing, especially in August. This upward rigidity in prices leaves travel agencies no choice apart from innovation to distinguish themselves from each other in the face of customers, particularly through the destinations offered, personalized packs, payment facilities , etc. A strategy that pays off! These packs and proposals, due to their seductive character, are selling like hot cakes, with regard to the comfort they offer in terms of the various services. And among the successful packs are, among others, those of the summer “Umrah” and Istanbul. This is affirmed by Mohamed B., manager of a travel agency located in Casablanca. “Our activity has started to pick up again in recent months. We started preparations for this summer season from last May,” he told MAP. And to support: “Today, in spite of the rise in prices, we note a strong enthusiasm at the same time for the trips at the internal level and abroad”. For foreign countries, the most popular destinations are Turkey and Egypt, explains this professional, adding that during last July, his agency organized four departures to Istanbul for a stay of more than a week, each including around thirty of seats. “For this month of August, there is no more availability, since all the scheduled seats have been sold. Also, customers are already booking for September,” he adds. → Read also: Tourism: trigger and performance, according to the Minister of Tourism With regard to Egypt, “we proposed during July and August, a double destination program with a 14-day stay combining Sharam El Sheikh and Cairo,” Mohamed said. And to note that this offer, although it was not sold at the same pace as that of Turkey, was well received by customers. According to this professional, Moroccans prefer combined trips this year, both to two countries or to two regions in the same country. In addition, a particular interest has been noted in this period for the summer “Umrah” which comes just after the Hajj season and before Umrah Al-Mawlid Al-Nabawi. “With the gradual lifting of health restrictions, many Moroccans asked for “Umrah” for August. As of today, we have managed to sell around 40 seats for several departures scheduled for this month,” Mohamed said. According to him, one of the major challenges surely remains that of the acquisition of plane tickets, since in this period of high season, the airlines prefer to sell the large part of the tickets directly to individuals than to tour operators. Internal tourism: the comeback! At the same time as this relaunch of the “outgoing” activity (stays abroad), national tourism is not to be outdone, since it is signaling a comeback, driven essentially by a series of measures, including the launch in January of the emergency plan of 2 billion dirhams (MMDH), the reopening of the borders in February and the great return of Moroccans residing abroad (MRE) with the Marhaba operation. A dynamic that has materialized further to benefit the various ecosystems of the tourism sector (hotels, vacation rentals, restaurants and cafes, road, rail and air transport, etc.). Moreover, the Minister of Tourism, Handicrafts and the Social and Solidarity Economy, Fatim-Zahra Ammor, had recently indicated that the number of tourists reached 1.14 million in June 2022, an increase of 5% compared to 2019. In the first six months of this year, nearly 3.4 million foreign tourists visited Morocco, according to the minister who pointed out that the surveys carried out revealed that 51% of Moroccan tourists prefer seaside tourism, 58% prefer to travel during school holidays and 60% prefer to travel with family, while 72% are more interested in the price of tourist services. Transport follows the trend Considered as one of the essential links in the tourist chain, transport, with its different types, is aligned with this trend to contribute to the success of this season. It is in this sense that the National Railways Office (ONCF) had deployed a special Summer 2022 system, based on the programming of more than 232 trains/day, including 30 “Al Boraq” trains in circulation each day in both directions, and capacity building on the main lines of the rail network, in addition to the doubling of 10 “Al boraq” trains. These measures prompted more than 4.5 million travelers to choose the train for their journeys last July, a figure up 30% compared to the same period in 2021 and 20% compared to 2019 (before covid). This performance is even more marked on the “Al boraq” trains, the evolution of which exceeds 55% compared to the same period in 2021 and 40% compared to 2019. As regards air transport, commercial traffic continues its rise, with the Kingdom's airports recording a volume of 7,439,275 passengers, through 70,680 flights in the first half of 2022. According to figures from the National Airports Office (ONDA), national airports have reached a recovery rate compared to H1-2019 of 64% for passengers and 72% for airport movements. With MAP