Contrasting colors, an impressive history, beautiful landscapes, diverse climates and varied cultures are all facets of the splendid jewel that is the country of Morocco. Tradition and progress blend seamlessly in a unique environment that honors existing traditions and fosters continuing progress. Morocco offers a country rich in history that is prepared to meet the needs of the growing number of tourists eager to experience this unusual and captivating combination of heritage and progress. Because Morocco is home to substantial natural assets and a rich cultural heritage, tourism is a priority for the country. From the Atlantic coast to the magnificent Imperial Cities, to the mountains, desert and oases each year more people are discovering the allure of this magnificent country.
Morocco has developed a robust and proactive development strategy to foster the continually growing tourism industry of the country. Morocco eventually projects that tourism will contribute to 20% of the GDP. The country completely supports the growth of tourism and fosters this important initiative by the building of new resorts, an increasing number of international airports, and the development of tourist facilities in major cities like Tangier and Marrakech.
THE MOST POPULAR TOURIST SITES OF MOROCCO
Marrakech is the most visited city in Morocco. An Imperial City with ten centuries of history, and a tourist resort par excellence with an international airport, Marrakech has retained its unique and fascinating authenticity. The numerous monuments of the Medina, with its bustling souks and the famous Jemaa El Fna square, its lovely riads and its warm and hospitable inhabitants are all aspects of this beloved and renowned city.
Fez has a well-deserved reputation as the intellectual and spiritual capital of Morocco. Its medina, classified by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, its al Quarawine University, the oldest in the Arab world and the Roman ruins of Volubilis are each monuments to the cultural significance of this magnificent city.
In the southeast of Marrakech, Ouarzazate is accessed easily by air and serves as the gateway to the mountains and the desert. The access point to the famous Draa Valley, Ouarzazate, the film capital of Morocco,
is known for its beautiful desert landscapes and amazing contrasting mountain scenery. Its rugged and breathtaking beauty attracts filmmakers from around the world.
Agadir, Al Hoceima and Essaouira are the most popular resort areas in Morocco; their proximity to the ocean and its breezes brings year round temperate and beautiful weather. The meticulously maintained, long sandy beaches feature a rich network of hotels and are ideal locations for enjoying nearly perfect weather, windsurfing, sailing and the abundant amenities of the many restaurants, shops and hotels in the area.
DIVERSIFIED TOURISM POTENTIAL OF MOROCCO
The beauty and diversity of landscapes provides each region with a different attraction to tourists. The coastlines attract resort tourism, the center of the country promotes cultural tourism, the mountains are ideal for hikes and the south attracts tourists to its magnificent valleys and exciting excursions into the desert. Regardless of the location, each area of Morocco is home to a wonderful and unique tourist experience.
Seaside tourism and cultural tourism in Morocco are sometimes described as competitive. However, each area has specific times of the year where tourism is higher due to variances in weather or special tourist oriented events. The proliferation of the World Wide Web has definitely increased tourism, particularly in the South, where magnificent treks on camel back into the desert continue to grow through enthusiastic word of mouth and positive reports on the internet.
Tourists are most often European and predominantly French. Spaniards, Swiss, Germans and Austrians, as well as tourists from northern Europe are beginning to visit more frequently and the Portuguese visit frequently to learn of the contribution of their country to the history and magnificent architecture of Morocco. Recently Italians have begun to discover the beautiful Moroccan landscapes and U.S. mainland tourists visit Morocco, but are less numerous.
THE NEW TRENDS MOROCCO TOURISM
New trends in tourism in Morocco are similar to those prevailing throughout the world. There is a typical tourist season but summer is not the only time people visit Morocco. The number of tourists is very high in the spring yet in other locations, particularly the South, the early fall seems to be the favored period for visitors. While beach and cultural tourism is dominant and continually growing, mountain, desert, hiking, trekking, camel rides, and 4×4 tours are becoming increasing favourites of visitors to Morocco. Hiking tours in the mountains are definitely on the rise and mountain tourism continues to grow as it features a wide variety of activities for visitors. Everything from hiking to skiing and many snow sports are available in the resort village of Ifrane and the Ourika Valley has become a favoured location for the construction of vacation homes.
The hiking trails of the Middle Atlas and Beni Mellal are recognized worldwide and considered some of the most scenic in the world. The French Alpine Club, through its Moroccan section, has established a significant number of shelters in the most frequented area, Toubkal Massif. Morocco has opened the noted Centre for Mountain Training Professionals that has already trained mountain guides, climbers, managers of rural accommodations and shelter custodians
Tourism in Morocco has a very bright future. Increased international interest has contributed to an emphasis on the growing tourism industry. Ouarzazate has grown significantly, which offers tourists increased amenities, travel choices, and access to the unique heritage of the desert and its inhabitants and supports the rehabilitation and preservation of the local heritage. Zagora and Ouarzazate have formed an association with a single partner to present an initiative to local authorities and NGOs to promote tourism and defend their interests.
Morocco follows an international trend by offering an authentic look at the country in more rural and undeveloped areas. This initiative is often promoted and supported by local development associations, development agencies or international NGOs as rural tourism operates successfully with little investment. The Moroccan Ministry of Tourism is considered an asset that complements the range of seaside holiday attractions by offering excursions to more remote areas further from the major cities. Rural tourism has offered an alternative source of accommodations for tourists to the sometimes crowded Mediterranean and Atlantic beach areas and has definitely contributed to a wider distribution of the economic benefits of tourism in all Morocco.