<p>Marrakech has been closed to tourists since November </p>

Marrakech has been closed to tourists since November

Morocco to lift international travel ban from 7 February

The popular tourist country has been shut to visitors since the end of November

Helen Coffey
Friday 28 January 2022 15:53
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Morocco will finally bring an end to its international travel ban on 7 February.

The north African country, usually a popular tourist destination, introduced a flight ban on 29 November in response to the Omicron variant of coronavirus that was sweeping the globe.

However, while other nations were swift to both impose restrictions and lift them again once it became clear that Omicron had become endemic, Morocco has kept its borders closed for two months.

The move to reopen the country to travellers followed “the evolution of the epidemiological situation in the kingdom”, according to a government statement published by the country’s MAP news agency.

The exact entry requirements for visitors are to be released “at a later date”.

Omicron already accounted for 70 per cent of all Covid-19 cases in Morocco by 7 January, according to the nation’s health minister. It is unclear why the decision to lift the flight ban has taken a further month.

Keeping out all visitors at a key time of year for the tourism sector, which accounted for 19 per cent of Morocco’s GDP in 2019, has brought the country’s travel industry to its knees.

One industry insider said in December that the tourism sector faced losses of at least €88m (£73m) between Christmas and New Year, reported Medias24.

“We were very optimistic with the arrival of the New Year, but these decisions took us by surprise,” said Khalid Moubarak, secretary general of the National Federation of Travel Agencies of Morocco.

“We were on the edge of bankruptcy.”

Travel companies have expressed relief that the country will finally reopen next month.

Zina Bencheikh, managing director EMEA for Intrepid Travel, said: ”The last two months have been incredibly difficult for the many people who rely on tourism for their income in Morocco.

“Domestic tourism can't make up for the fall in overseas visitor numbers and many businesses have struggled to stay afloat.

“The reopening of the border is fantastic news for local people and travellers who have been hoping to visit.

“Morocco is one of Intrepid's top selling destinations and with good reason – after today’s good news I’m sure the country will be back on travellers’ wish lists for 2022.”

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