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Wednesday, 29 December 2010 12:00 AM

The Times 29 December 2010

Go To Market for an Innovative New Year Break

Industry leaders reveal some unusual travel trends for 2011 – by Tony Dawe

 

Short Haul

“Holidays to Marrakech are still as popular as ever, but we are finding a growing number of customers looking for something different, away from the tourist crowds.” Giles Giffin, Naturally Morocco’s commercial director, said. He recommends tours to destinations in the north: Fez, for its exciting history and architecture, Meknes, with a genuine medina, and Chefchaouen, with blue-rinsed houses, flower-filled squares, and the backdrop of the Rif Mountains.

 

What we at Naturally Morocco add on reading Tony’s article

Morocco has developed a long way as a tourist destination since the early days – the hippy hang-out days of the 1960s when Jimi Hendrix stayed in Essaouria. In those early decades Morocco was for the truly adventurous traveller, rather than run-of-the-mill holiday maker, with travel overland and across the Strait of Gibraltar as the main route in - the passage through Spain in itself was not easy and getting south within Morocco were extra miles to cover.

By the 1990s it was becoming more widely known as a welcoming country and there was a proliferation of Moroccan town houses (riads) being bought and developed by (mainly) European nationals to cater for the larger number of foreigners arriving on the steadily increasing number of international flight arrivals. These converted riads gave a taste of Morocco with western comfort, and were almost unique to Morocco. Morocco created its Ministry of Tourism in 1985 to help develop this industry at this time, and by the late 1980s and early 1990s there were around 1 - 1.5 million visitors annually.

The 2000s saw the doubling of tourist number to over 9 million visitors annually by 2010, fed by the huge increase in cheap air transport.  By now the overland/ sea route was an expensive and time-consuming (but very interesting) luxury, other than those visiting the major port cities on cruise ships.  Marrakech dominates as the main port of arrival for flights, and weekend trips were becoming normal, but outside of Marrakech the Ministry of Tourism focussed on a few specific beach areas for mass tourism.

Naturally Morocco believes that Morocco is much more than Marrakech and a large hotel on the beach. For those interested in exploring a different culture, Morocco has a vast set of options and there is a growing interest amongst our guests to explore away from the main beaten path.