Written by 12:24 pm Economy

Morocco’s soaring tourism sector poses threats to competitor Spain

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Morocco’s surging economic growth is becoming a challenge for Spain’s tourism sector. As Morocco establishes itself as a direct competitor in attracting tourists, Spain is grappling with the increasing threat posed by its neighbor’s growing allure, according to elEconomista.

“The truth is that every tourist who decides to go to Morocco may be one less tourist that Spain receives,” the report stated.

The report noted that Morocco has made significant strides in promoting its heritage, safety, and rich cultural offerings, investing millions in boosting tourism. 

In the first eleven months of 2023, Morocco welcomed 13.2 million tourists, surpassing the 2019 pre-pandemic figures of 12.9 million.

CaixaBank Research experts previously highlighted the competition, citing lower-priced markets like Morocco and Turkey as significant contenders. Morocco’s Ministry of Tourism reported a 36% increase in arrivals compared to the same period in 2022.

Despite Morocco’s slower relative growth in tourist arrivals, the country is poised to break records this year. Minister of Tourism Fatima Zahra Ammor anticipates surpassing 14 million tourists by December.

CaixaBank analysts also emphasized the impact of declining real incomes in Europe in 2022 and 2023 due to inflation, affecting Spain’s tourism growth. As a result, Turkey, Tunisia, Egypt, and Morocco are emerging as formidable competitors in the Mediterranean tourism industry.

Contrary to popular belief, CaixaBank Research asserted that Morocco, not Greece or Portugal, poses the most significant threat to Spain’s tourism industry. However, Spain continues to maintain significantly higher absolute tourist arrival numbers, with 8.7 million estimated arrivals in October alone.

The Financial Times also noted that Morocco’s tourism industry is heading towards record levels in 2023, with 70% of visitors from Europe, particularly France and Spain. Despite Morocco’s distance from Spain’s numbers, the increasing Moroccan offerings pose a growing threat.

Major airlines are capitalizing on this growth, exemplified by Ryanair’s recent announcement of 35 new routes to Morocco. As Morocco’s tourist influx outpaces Spain’s, the possibility of an overtaking becomes a looming concern.

Experts, according to the report, anticipate a relatively positive scenario for Spain’s tourism in 2023, with significant growth expected. However, challenges may arise in 2024, driven by economic complexities in key tourist-origin countries like the UK and Germany, heightened price competition in the Mediterranean, and the risk of domestic and European tourists favoring more distant destinations.

CaixaBank economists expressed their optimism, pointing to the potential recovery of real wages in Spain and Europe, the resilience of European tourism demand, and the revival of demand from long-distance markets such as Asia, factors that could bolster tourism towards the end of 2023 and 2024.

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