It’s shaping up to be a big year for Morocco.
In 2022, the destination’s tourism sector saw 10.9 million visitor arrivals and tourism revenue totaling $8.82 billion, representing a return to pre-pandemic levels — and the numbers are steadily increasing in 2023, according to Siham Fettouhi, director of the Morocco National Tourism Office for the USA and Canada, who is notably the first woman to lead the destination’s North American promotion efforts.
Here, Fettouhi discusses Morocco’s rebranding as the “Kingdom of Light,” recent and upcoming tourism developments and unique offerings around the country.
What’s new for travelers in Morocco?
Quite a few hotels recently opened across the country, including Conrad Rabat Arzana, Rabat Marriott Hotel, Fairmont La Marina Rabat-Sale, Nobu Hotel Marrakech, Fairmont Tazi Palace Tangier and Hilton Taghazout Bay Beach Resort & Spa.
We are seeing visitors begin to venture outside of the most traveled imperial cities to find authentic and untouched cultural offerings. From Tangier and Ouarzazate to Merzouga and more, each city offers a unique perspective on what life in Morocco is like. We are thrilled that these towns and cities are becoming more accessible for international travelers.
While the country is quite large, visitors can see more during their trips with our latest update to the domestic transportation system. Africa’s first high-speed rail train, Al Boraq, offers service daily across Rabat, Casablanca and Tangier. The bullet train can take you from Casablanca to Tangier in two hours compared to nearly six hours by other means.
What upcoming developments should advisors and their clients know about?
Under the National Airport Master Plan for 2035, the Rabat-Sale Airport extension and modernization project is part of efforts to develop the transportation sector by upgrading its infrastructure and services. And, following the success of the [initial] high-speed rail line, Morocco is developing a second line connecting Casablanca and Marrakech, and Marrakech and Agadir, to reach more tourist-heavy areas.
What does the destination’s rebranding as the “Kingdom of Light” entail?
The unique light in Morocco is an incredible source of inspiration for artists past and present, and a source of movement and energy. With this in mind, we created “Morocco - Kingdom of Light,” a campaign that aims to foster the desire to come to Morocco by showcasing the many adventures that a traveler can have here.
Morocco is a country that breathes life through its arts, living culture and crafts. We’re promoting the vibrance and diversity of Morocco to a younger audience … the overall goal is to develop a brand that is modern, global and distinct, and that captures the full range of Moroccan experiences and people.
History and culture are obvious draws, but what else can travelers expect to find?
In addition to what we all know about Morocco, the country has a diverse landscape with deserts, coasts and mountainous terrain. In Agadir, you can surf and snorkel in the Atlantic Ocean. In Tangier, you can kitesurf in the Strait of Gibraltar while looking at Spain’s coastline in the distance. In Merzouga, you can spend a night camping in the Sahara Desert, and in the Atlas Mountains, you can rock climb or even ski.
Do you have any advice for agents selling Morocco?
My best advice is to tell Morocco’s true, unique story. The narratives that Morocco is only desert, that Marrakech is the only destination for visitors or that Morocco is only for adults are outdated — the Kingdom offers outstanding culture and cuisine; diverse nature; enhanced tourist infrastructures; and a wide range of outdoor activities, museums and national parks. Our experiences are for solo travelers, friend groups, couples and families of all ages.