Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Morocco Therapy - the Cure for the Economy's Effect on Tourism

First, I must just say that this website is hilarious:

Second, if you want to read about how the site is part of a plan by the Moroccan government to recover slacking tourist dollars, read this article that appeared in the Times Online:

March 18, 2009
Travel crisis 2009: Morocco launches late deals website
The North African country is the first to respond to the downturn in travel with deals and offers in a new campaign
This picture was taken on holiday in Morocco in September of this year
Steve Keenan

Morocco has become the first country to face up to the collapse in travel bookings and launch a website aimed at reviving its tourism economy.

The country's tourism bosses have collected deals and offers from 30 holiday companies and will launch its new website later today.

It is a mix of discounts and offers, including free spa treatments, transfers and hotel nights. But headline offers include a week in Agadir for £419, or three nights in a five-star hotel in Marrakesh for £359.

The move comes after Morocco reported a decline of 15 per cent in British travellers in January over the same month last year.

While bad, the figure is less significant than Spain, which reported a drop of 20 per cent - or 148,000 - British travellers in the same month.

It is a story being repeated throughout the Mediterranean as Britons save their money or resist booking a summer holiday until much closer their departure date.

This week the CAA reported that the number of Britons taking flights fell last year for the first time since 1991 - a trend that sharply accelerated in the last three months of 2008.

This year is set to be even worse for overseas travel, prompting the move by Morocco - an initiative sure to be followed by other countries in the next few weeks.

The Moroccan Tourist Board is spending £2m on an advertising campaign in Britain as well as launching the website. "No-one can tell what the future is looking like - it is very hard to predict," said Aziz Mnii, deputy director of the UK office.

"This is a crisis campaign - we want to put Morocco upfront of people thinking of which destination to visit."

Morocco will be boosted by the launch next month of a new airline operating flights from Gatwick, Times Online can reveal. Air Arabia Morocco will start five flights a week to Casablanca, with plans to operate to Marrekesh later this year.

The country's state airline, Royal Air Maroc, will also create a new premium economy class on its flights from Gatwick to Marrakesh next month.

The need for new air services is imperative after the sale of GB Airways to easyJet last year, and a subsequent scaling back of flights.

The crisis is hightened further by the planned opening of a series of new top-end resorts in Morocco in 2009, the first of which open on the Med coast and south of Casablanca in June.

Ali El Kasmi, director of the UK tourist office, said Morocco hoped to pick up British tourists who might otherwise head for long-haul destinations such as the Caribbean or Indian Ocean.

"We will change the offers and deals every week," he told Times Online. "We will start with 15 tour operators but can put up to 300 deals on the website. We plan the site to run for six months but can also extend it if necessary."

The initiative won support from Doug Mathieson, who runs the Morocco programme for Cadogan Holidays, a long-time supporter of the country. "Morocco is leading the way - it would be good for others to respond in the same vein, particularly the Spanish islands."

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