AUTHENTICITY FOR THE WIN

Morocco 2020/21 | TOURISM | INTERVIEW

Atlas Voyages has a threepronged plan for the success of Morocco's tourism industry: authentic experiences, sustainable tourism, and digitalization.

Othman Cherif Alami

What were the main outcomes of the Tourism Marketing Days event?
In Morocco, the tourism industry plays a crucial role, as it is a key sector. According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), more than 750,000 people are employed in the tourism industry. The Moroccan Tourism Marketing Days aimed to share the vision of the Moroccan National Tourist Office (ONMT) and industry leaders. The event was an opportunity to share our strategies concerning countries where we should consolidate our presence, such as the UK, Germany, France, Spain, and Italy. We also identified future potential markets in China and North America. In January 2020, we launched our first direct flight from Casablanca to Beijing. In North America, we have direct flights to Miami, Washington D.C., New York, Montreal, and Boston. In the meantime, we must consolidate our core market with new flights to Morocco. Thanks to a decision made by the Moroccan government in 2008 with Europe, all European airlines can land in Morocco without authorization, and the same goes for Royal Air Maroc in Europe. Morocco has 3,500km of beaches along the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts. We also have beautiful landscapes, welcoming people, an outstanding desert, and amazing hospitality. In 2019, we reached 13 million tourists and USD8 billion in revenue. Moving forward, we should further promote the cities of Fes, Rabat, Tangier, the Mediterranean coast, and the south. The Tourism Marketing Days focused on domestic tourism as well, which accounts for more than 30% of occupancy in official hotels. Digitalization and human capital are two other key points we discussed.

What are the challenges preventing Morocco from reaching its full tourism potential?
We need to increase our foreign-language skills, service quality, and hospitality. Furthermore, we need to adapt our attitudes to clients coming from the global village. We also spoke about quality, domestic tourism, MICE events, golf, and even cinema, as many movies are filmed here. Robert Redford earlier came to Marrakesh, and he showed his appreciation on Twitter. That digital attention is worth more than publicity on CNN. We also have to ensure sustainable development to promote inclusive tourism.

What has been the impact of digitalization on your company?
B2B has been fantastic, while B2C has been more challenging. We are working on solutions to fix this, like our new application, where clients can find more than 400,000 hotels and flights. We have around 15 engineers working 24/7 to help us with this. B2B is a machine-to-machine business, and in 2020, we will be connected to one of the biggest providers of travel services in the world, located in China. It took six months for the engineers to connect the two systems. All the clients of this Chinese platform will be able to look at our products online and book instantly. Machine-to-machine connection, which is the third revolution of tourism, will have a positive impact on the industry.

What does Morocco need to do to ensure the tourism sector is sustainable?
If we can preserve the authenticity of our country and keep the right attitude, we will be able to provide a genuine experience, which will always be in demand. We must not forget the inclusive economy, and we must keep in mind that everyone has to have a slice of the cake. To this end, we need the government, regional authorities, and key decision makers to work together to facilitate stores, museums, and activities that can generate an income for all participants of the economy. We also have to work on a digital marketing approach. We must build a strong digital presence that covers the entire value chain. We need to invest more in human talent. If we can ensure that our people are trained and educated, growth and development will follow.