Morocco posts fall in foreign tourist arrivals

Marrakesh and Agadir, the country’s two main tourist destinations, also suffered from the slump

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Morocco has announced a 5.6 per cent drop in foreign tourist arrivals for the first half of 2016, with holidaymakers apparently put off by unrest and attacks across the region.

Tourism is a backbone of the North African country’s economy, along with revenues from exports and the remittances of Moroccans who work abroad.

Morocco has been spared unrest triggered by the Arab Spring revolts that have rocked North Africa and the Middle East since 2011, as well as attacks claimed by the ISIS terror group.

But the number of tourist arrivals dropped by 5.6 per cent in the first six months of this year compared with the same period in 2015, said the Moroccan tourism office.

It said the number of British visitors fell by eight per cent, with arrivals from Germany down by seven per cent and those from both France and Italy five per cent lower.

The number of Moroccans living abroad who visited the country in the first half of the year was up by 1.7 per cent, said the Moroccan Observatory for Tourism.

Overall, nearly 4.2 million tourists visited Morocco in the first six months of the year, or 2.6 per cent fewer holidaymakers than for 2015, it said.

Marrakesh and Agadir, the country’s two main tourist destinations, also suffered from the slump, it added.

Terror attacks

Marrakesh was the scene of a deadly attack on a cafe in 2011 that killed 17 people, most of them foreigners.

It was the deadliest attack in Morocco since the 2003 Casablanca blasts that killed 45 people, including 12 suicide bombers.

The decline in tourist arrivals in Tunisia follows a series of attacks that killed dozens of foreigners in Tunisia and Egypt last year and were claimed by ISIS militants.

Morocco has reinforced its security measures since 2014, after the rise of ISIS in territory it seized straddling Syria and Iraq.

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