IMANE – Stability, better promotion boosts Morocco’s appeal for Turks

Stability, better promotion boosts Morocco’s appeal for TurksThe number of Turkish tourists going to Morocco has nearly doubled over the last five years, figures show, demonstrating growth in the North African country’s appeal for Turks, largely due to its political stability and an increased promotional campaign in Turkey.Data available from the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) indicate that 16,117 Turks visited Morocco in 2008 while this figure rose to 27,100 in 2013.Turkey and Morocco have cultivated better trade and political ties over the past decade and this was accompanied by increased Turkish investments in Morocco. Government officials and tourism sector representatives note that the improved relations have helped raise the profile of Morocco among Turkish tourists. Morocco has especially enjoyed a steady growth in the number of Turkish visitors for three consecutive years — 2011, 2012 and 2013 — largely because of the relatively stable political atmosphere in the North African country during the popular uprisings of the Arab Spring, observers note. This fact also increased the country’s competitive power among its rivals in the region.The fact that more Turks are choosing to spend their vacation in Morocco should not come as a surprise, since the country’s senior envoy to Turkey notes that the Moroccan government has been making efforts to attract more Turks to Morocco.In addition to that, tourism market experts note that an increase in buying power over the past decade has encouraged more Turks to travel abroad, and Morocco has seen a share of this trend. Turkey and Morocco have strong historical, cultural and traditional ties, as well, another critical factor in attracting Turks to Morocco.Morocco’s ambassador to Ankara, Mohamed Lotfi Aouad, tells Today’s Zaman, “It is clear that the improvement of trade and cultural ties helped the flow of more Turks to Morocco.” Aouad also says more than 80 Turkish companies are operating in Morocco and that this has played a great role in boosting the number of Turkish visitors to Morocco. However, despite the growth of Turkish tourism to Morocco, the country still isn’t among the top destinations visited by the Turks.Last year, 83,000 Moroccans visited Turkey, the second largest group of visitors to Turkey from among the Arab nations.In a bid to attract an even larger number of Turkish tourists, Morocco participates in various tourism fairs and events in Turkey each year.This recent increase in Morocco’s efforts to promote their country inside Turkey is supported by the Moroccan government and played a great role in calling Turks’ attention to Morocco. “We [the Moroccan Embassy] are encouraging tourism operators to visit different Turkish cities to explore opportunities there and get a better understanding of Turkish tourists’ preferences,” Aouad said. The ambassador also noted that the conferences they organized in Turkey with different local tour operators helped improve cooperation between the two countries’ tourism industries.Sophia Allali, in charge of the press relations in the Moroccan National Office of Tourism, tells Today’s Zaman that they participate in some of the major tourism fairs in Turkey each year, including the East Mediterranean International Travel and Tourism Exhibition (EMITT), to showcase the destinations and products that best meet the expectations of Turkish tourists.Last year more than 30 Moroccan tourism companies were present at the EMITT expo, and Morocco won the award for the country with the best booth.Casablanca, Marrakesh are hot spotsThere are more than 20 Turkish travel agencies that offer all-inclusive package trips to Morocco. Most of them give travelers the opportunity to choose between several destinations in the country.Ismail Iahin, head of the Turkish travel agency Middle East Travel in Casablanca, says, “Being the pearl of Northwest Africa, Morocco’s natural and cultural features have become a major attraction for Turks.” Iahin tells Today’s Zaman that Casablanca and Marrakesh are the Turks’ favorite Moroccan cities to visit, followed by Meknes and Fez.In addition, Morocco’s Atlantic Ocean coastline and the Sahara Desert offer interesting discoveries and variety for Turks. A Turkish tourist who recently visited Morocco, Zeynep YIlmaz, says, “I liked the architecture and the style of the buildings, but what drew my attention most was the Atlantic Ocean and the old medinas.” YIlmaz, who toured six cities in one week, said she was amazed by the country and its people, who she said “were very kind.”It is easy for Turkish tourists to travel to Morocco, as this country requires no visa from Turks. And according to Ismail Iahin, the average amount a Turkish tourist spends in Morocco, including accommodation and travel guide expenses, is around 100 euros per day. But there are still challenges to be overcome, such as transportation. Moroccan and Turkish airline companies should increase the number of flights between the two countries, observers note. Last year, the Moroccan national carrier, Royal Air Morocco, added two more flights per week to Istanbul, bringing the number of its flights a week up to seven. Turkish Airlines (THY) is also offering flights every day to Morocco. The company also has three sales representative offices in Casablanca, the financial capital of Morocco.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman

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