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Morocco looks to UK, Germany to beef up tourism

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 10, 2013 at 3:31 pm •  Published: April 10, 2013

The slow growth is a major concern for a country where tourism is considered a key industry. Morocco's tourism sector, which recently surpassed remittances from workers abroad as the main source of foreign currency, employs some 470,000 people in this country of 32 million.

The country features a combination of sea and sand tourism, with beach resorts such as Agadir on the Atlantic coast and exotic medieval-style cities like Marrakech — the country's top destination. Morocco's 2020 Vision plan, its main development plan for tourism, seeks to expand the country's appeal to include its mountains and deserts.

Germany and the United Kingdom, which have been less affected by the economic crisis than several of their European neighbors, are the main targets for the ministry's campaign to attract new visitors. There are currently 500,000 annual visitors from Britain, for instance, and Haddad said Morocco "would like to get something like a million."

Also in the minister's sights: wealthy Arab tourists from the Gulf, who tend to stay longer and spend more than other tourists.

"The places where they used to go, Egypt and Lebanon, they can't now because of security reasons, so they are coming to Morocco," Haddad said. "We have seen a huge growth in that market, about 20 percent last year."

In the long run, Haddad said Morocco also hopes to attract more visitors from China.