In 2018, tourism-generated GDP grew by 6.2% amounting to MAD 76.9 billion, compared to MAD 72.4 billion in 2017. Its contribution to national GDP reached 6.9%, up from 6.8% the previous year. Tourism plays an important role in the Moroccan economy thanks to its ability to create new jobs, contribute to economic and social development and bring in foreign currency. Revenues generated by international visitors to Morocco in 2018 reached almost MAD 89 billion (including international transport). This accounted for almost 51% of service exports in 2018. The tourism sector is an excellent source of jobs in Morocco, with 550 000 direct jobs in 2018, equating to 5% of total employment.

In 2018, the country recorded 12.3 million international arrivals. France, Spain and Germany remain the top three source markets, comprising 57.5% of the market share. The main inbound markets all increased between 2017 and 2018, with residents from Germany up by 10.1%, France by 7.6%, Spain by 6.4%, and the United Kingdom by 3.8%. Newer markets also performed well, including the United States, China, Poland and Brazil.

In 2018, internal tourism spending was estimated at MAD 131 billion, a rise of 5.4% from 2017. Domestic tourism expenditure reached MAD 41 billion, an increase of 4.4%. Overnight stays in classified tourism accommodation establishments were up 8.7% in 2018 (after an increase of 14.8% from 2016 to 2017), driven by a 12.1% increase in overnight stays by non-residents. Of the total overnight stays in hotels and similar establishments recorded in 2018 amounting to 24 million nights, 30% were made by residents. In 2018, 3.2 million domestic tourists were recorded, up 4.1% over 2017.

The Ministry of Tourism of Morocco develops and implements the tourism policy for the government through the Department of Tourism. It has a General Secretariat, an Inspectorate General and other executive directorates covering strategy and co-operation, regulation development, quality, resources and training. The following central bodies operate under the Department of Tourism: The National Moroccan Tourist Office - promotes, commercialises and develops Morocco as a tourist destination and stimulates air travel; and the Moroccan Agency for Tourism Development, which promotes investment opportunities and offers guidance to investors and operators in the tourism industry.

The Department of Tourism is supported by a regional structure consisting of seven regional offices and 18 provincial units. Their main tasks are to supervise the quality of tourist activities and monitor the development of tourist products at regional and local levels. They work closely with a range of local authorities and tourism stakeholders to ensure that the sector grows evenly and consistently at the regional and local level.

In 2017, the scope of the Ministry of Tourism expanded to include the aviation sector and accordingly, two new structures were placed under the jurisdiction of the Ministry: the National Office of Airports, overseeing airport management; and the General Directorate of Civil Aviation, responsible for missions relating to civil aviation.

The National Confederation of Tourism acts as a point of contact between the private and public sectors. The Confederation’s mission is to promote the private sector and link all tourism professions at the national level through the industry’s national federations. The Confederation represents hotels, travel agencies, car rental companies, restaurants, tour and mountain guides, tour operators and investors. Regional tourism councils bring together professionals from the private and public sector, with the mission to support destinations through the improvement and promotion of Morocco’s tourism offer nationally and internationally.

The budget for the Ministry of Tourism comes from the central budget and totalled MAD 860 million in 2019 and has been increased by about 41% compared to 2018. It is divided between the entities under the Ministry’s responsibility: Central Administration, regional and provincial delegations (39%); Moroccan National Tourist Office (35%); the Moroccan Society for Tourism Engineering (19%); and, training schools (7%).

Since 2011, the Department of Tourism has been implementing Vision 2020. The Vision builds on the achievements of Vision 2010, and is based on a model which recognises both the importance of economic development and the preservation of tourism resources and environments. Vision 2020 is a strategy focused on regional tourism, quality and sustainable development. It is committed to making tourism a driver of economic, social and cultural development in Morocco.

The tourism industry is facing new macroeconomic and political challenges, which influence both the purchasing power of inbound markets to Morocco and the investment potential of industry players. The following trends have been identified as critical factors for Morocco’s tourism:

  • Continued acceleration of the digital revolution and new channels of promotion and distribution,

  • Increasing individual and independent travel made possible by low-cost offers,

  • New patterns of customer behaviour throughout the value chain,

  • The emergence of new outbound markets - the tourism sector is doing well due to the sustained growth in the BRIC economies and has boosted its performance in the Chinese market since removing visa requirements for Chinese nationals.

In developing regional tourism, the Department of Tourism works with its partners to adapt and upgrade governance structures, giving decentralised services a greater role in the implementation and development of tourism in their respective territories. Initiatives aiming to support regional tourism development include:

  • Enhancing the attractiveness of Morocco as a destination is a key priority. Efforts are being made by the Department of Tourism, through the Moroccan National Tourist Office, to ensure the visibility and accessibility of Morocco's offer from targeted markets. These activities include:

    • Establishing partnerships with leading online tour operators,

    • Developing communication campaigns through major websites and the major airline web platforms,

    • Event-based communication, increased communication via social networks; organisation of familiarisation trips for journalists, tour operators and influencers/bloggers; and, the acquisition of media space along with the dissemination of content on digital media and digital platforms.

  • Enhancing the competitiveness of air transport to support growth in tourism, especially through strategic partnerships with main outbound countries and new markets with high potential,

  • Stimulating tourist investment by adopting new measures to incentivise and support investors in both existing and new facilities,

  • Restructuring of the tourism sector and supporting players in order to boost economic competitiveness, in particular by updating and reviewing laws governing tourism professionals and improving industry oversight,

  • Increasing the quality of training to improve the response to industry needs, by diversifying the training offer, restructuring training establishments and signing international partnership agreements for training in tourism and hospitality,

  • Strengthening quality standards throughout the tourism value chain in order to guarantee an offer that meets market needs and addresses the key challenges.

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