Message Addressed by H.M. King Mohammed VI
to Conference on Tourism
(February 14, 2003)
AGADIR, Feb.14- Here follows the full text of the message addressed on Friday, February 14, 2003 to the 3rd national conference on tourism.
"Ladies and Gentlemen,
In the speech I delivered in Marrakesh two years ago, I spelled out major guidelines for the strategy to promote tourism as a national priority sector, and to enable our country to attract some 10 million visitors annually by 2010. There is a contractual scheme that has been developed for this purpose, and I call on operators from both the public and the private sectors to combine their efforts and work hand in hand within this framework. I urge you to convene every year to take stock of the progress made and identify the obstacles and hindrances, in order to give more momentum to the implementation of the strategy.
Morocco has already accomplished a lot in this field, mainly by securing a substantial increase in tourism investments, and by bringing accommodation capacity up to 10,000 new beds in the year 2003, compared to an average of 1,500 new beds per annum in the second half of the 1990's. It is hoped that this rate will double in the medium term, with the opening of the Aguedal-Marrakesh and Taghazout-Agadir zones, as well as the seaside resorts to be built in El-Jadida, Essaouira, Saïdia and Costa-Blanca. Tenders have already been invited for these projects, and major international companies have expressed interest. All this points to the fact that Morocco has a record of credibility with major foreign investors, in spite of the difficult international juncture.
Our country is thus demonstrating that it can embark on large-scale projects and carry them out, as part of national priority schemes, with targets, resources, deadlines and evaluation mechanisms clearly stated, as in the case of the tourism sector to which I attach special importance. I shall see to it that it gets all the support it needs so that it may develop and expand in accordance with a clearly defined approach, with specific obligations which must be fulfilled by all partners, especially the state.
In this connection, steps have been taken by the Government to settle legal issues related to land ownership in many tourist resorts. Contracts for the development of these projects have been awarded to private companies to ensure speed and efficiency. At the same time, efforts are being made to provide special training in tourism-related trades and services. During this decade, more than seventy thousand skilled workers are expected to be trained in the tourism sector which is an inexhaustible source of employment for young people.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
These achievements, important though they are, should not conceal the magnitude of the challenges that we must overcome if we want tourism to become the mainstay in the project to build a modern, competitive and open national economy.
Given the international situation characterized by serious disruptions and by acute economic and geo-strategic competition which are expected to bring about dramatic changes, it is our duty to take bold action and do our best to control the adverse effects of the difficulties lying ahead. There should be no hesitation or procrastination in the implementation of our ten-year plan of action.
Indeed our objective is to ensure that Morocco continues to be trusted internationally as a genuine, peaceful and attractive tourist destination, both in the short term and in the long run when we have carried through our ambitious projects which are bound to stimulate the real take-off of the tourism industry.
I should point out that there is a direct correlation between tourism and all other sectors and activities in a nation such as ours which is known for its tranquillity, the beauty of its scenery and for the attractiveness of its monuments and other aspects of its civilization. Similarly, I must stress the importance of tourism-related transport, particularly air transport, in our effort to enhance the competitiveness of our tourism. In this connection, it must be emphasized that it is necessary to extend the existing network by running direct flights to tourist destinations. Furthermore, the air transport industry must be upgraded with a view to liberalizing it and boosting its competitiveness. In the process, it should be kept in mind that it is necessary to develop the Moroccan Airlines Company, RAM, and to bolster its profitability, in accordance with a new, comprehensive approach, to be adopted to this effect. The aim, beyond purely commercial considerations, is to see to it that the air transport industry becomes a powerful booster to the development of tourism.
Improving the current policies for the promotion of tourist services is one of the major challenges that need to be addressed. Steps should be taken to update marketing methods and bring them in line with standard professional practices. Action should also be taken to improve the performances of the Moroccan National Tourist office, and efforts should be made to highlight the specific features and the rich, natural and cultural assets of each region, in order to make it a distinct international tourist destination in its own right.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Your main objective, more than any other, should always be to shield the nation's tourism industry from the impact of the fluctuations in the international situation. You must instill in the tourist's mind the true image of Morocco as an open democratic nation which boasts an age-old civilization and a rich cultural heritage. We consider that tourism should not be regarded merely as a source of foreign currency, however important that may be, but rather as a bridge for cross-cultural interaction, and as a means to get to know other peoples and civilizations, and simply as a way to keep up with the times.
This is the shared responsibility of the whole nation. It is a duty incumbent upon every Moroccan citizen. There is no way we can achieve the take-off which is hoped for in tourism, unless each one is convinced of the civilizational dimension in the concept of tourism.
The kind of tourism we have set our sights on, cannot be developed fully without the citizens engaging massively in domestic tourism. This activity deserves as much attention as that of attracting foreign visitors, especially as it gives Moroccans an opportunity to discover and be proud of their country with its beautiful sites and a diverse history and culture. Moreover, domestic tourism stimulates trade and cultural interaction between local populations, and contributes to economic growth.
The Government is therefore urged to develop a well designed plan aimed at encouraging investment in the building of hotel facilities specifically tailored to meet domestic tourism needs. The state and local governments, as well as operators from the private sector, should make a combined effort to achieve this objective, within the framework of the regional councils for tourism and in conjunction with NGOs from the civil society.
These are the challenges lying ahead. They should be faced by each one of you, with resolve, creativeness and optimism. There should be no room for pessimistic, negative or "wait-and-see" attitudes.
You should always keep in mind that the global competition facing us is such that we have no alternative but to work harder, with more and more dedication.
You can always count on my support to stimulate energies and turn weaknesses of tourism into strengths. The tourist industry will thus play its role as a powerful booster in the general effort to achieve development as part of our project to build a modern, open society with its specific identity.
May Almighty God guide you on the path to success in your proceedings. "
© MAP 2003 http://www.map.co.ma/mapeng/speeches/assises_tourisme.html