Morocco has abolished the PCR test requirement to enter its territory to encourage the return of foreign tourists and support a vital sector for the national economy, according to a government statement. “The Moroccan government has decided to cancel the condition of the PCR test for entry into Moroccan territory”said the prime minister’s office. This decision is effective immediately. “It was taken (…) taking into consideration the improvement of the epidemiological situation in our country”, underlines the press release.
Aziz Akkanouch’s government was under pressure from tourism industry professionals to save the season and revive a sector devastated by two years of pandemic. “We are very happy. It’s a decision that should have been taken before but the main thing is that it is done”, said the president of the National Federation of the Hotel Industry (FNIH), Lahcen Zelmat. “This will encourage Moroccans residing abroad, who return to the country for the summer holidays, as well as foreign tourists“, continues Lahcen Zelmat.
On the other hand, the health pass remains compulsory to access Moroccan territory. The reopening of Moroccan airspace on February 7 was accompanied by restrictions: a valid vaccination pass and a negative PCR test less than 48 hours before departure. On arrival at airports, travelers were also subjected to an antigen test and PCR tests were carried out randomly on passengers. Measures judged “too restrictive” by tour operators and hoteliers.
Only 3.7 million foreign tourists visited Morocco in 2021 compared to 13 million in 2019, according to official statistics. Tourism accounted for nearly 7% of Moroccan GDP in 2019. According to the Ministry of Tourism, Morocco received just over 34 billion dirhams (3.2 billion euros) in tourism revenue in 2021, i.e. more than two times less than in 2019 (80 billion dirhams). The bullish trend is confirmed, says the economic site Media24 which publishes the figures for arrivals in Morocco in 2022. Thus, between February 7, the date of the reopening of its airspace, and the end of April, the Kingdom saw 1.45 million people set foot on its soil, half of them Moroccans residing abroad.
At the beginning of the year, the government launched an emergency plan of two billion dirhams (nearly 190 million euros) in order to preserve jobs and allow tourist businesses to cope with the financial constraints due to the interruption of their activities. A plan considered too timid by players in the sector.