(MENAFN - Morocco World News) Spain Morocco's northern neighbor is experiencing tourism boom. After years of crisis that have led to a 20 percent unemployment rate tourists flock to Spain in high numbers.
In 2015 the rise in touristic arrivals was over seven percent. The beaches of Barcelona teamed with visitors from mostly landlocked European countries and Great Britain. The season of 2016 looks even more promising and according to some accounts the hotels in Spain are fully booked for the two main summer months July and August. Morocco's more distant North African neighbors Tunisia and Egypt are a whole different story. The 2015-year was bleak for Tunisia which experienced two major attacks in its tourism sector. There was the terrorist attack at the Bardo museum in the capital of Tunis in the spring and a blood bath in June at one of the Souss holiday resorts and in both instances foreigners were targeted. Egypt likewise is struggling to attract tourists in numbers as it has historically done so during the turn of the century. Tourists however seem to prefer other destinations before the Land of the Pyramids or the cheap and once very popular Tunisia. Many of them I suppose will contribute to overcrowding the beaches on the Spanish costas. Photo by Katarina Maruskinova
Where does Morocco stand in all of this? Does Morocco deserve to be more like Spain or is it more like other traditionally touristic North African countries? Morocco I believe is at the crossroads at a time when the type of endeavors it undertakes and the decisions it implements will affect its tourism industry for decades to come. I have recently been asked to attend a conference that will discuss the image of Arab countries. I am supposed to deliver a speech on the image of the tourist destinations in the Arab world as portrayed by the tourism bureaus in order to attract customers. So far I have not been able to find many examples that would through advertisements portray the beaches of Tunisia or Egypt differently than those of Morocco Spain or Bulgaria. The most popular destinations for stay-in-resort vacations attract their visitors by the quality of the accommodations cleanliness of their beaches and most importantly by their price. After all is it all that important in which country the beach and resort are located? Very little seems to be the role of the “exotic' environment and the character of the country unless it is a far-away destination such as Sri Lanka or Thailand. After all those tourists that prefer the cheap stay-in vacations have most likely already been to various countries in the Mediterranean region. This includes the visitors of the post-communist central European landlocked countries such as Czech Republic Poland Slovakia and Hungary. In the last 25 years since their re-opening to the world Central Europeans have traveled extensively in Europe and North Africa primarily seeking to sejour by the sea side which they are missing back home. Photo by Katarina Maruskinova