On D-16 of the school holidays, hopes are dwindling after the closure of the Moroccan sky for two weeks and the cascade of cancellations by airlines. While waiting for the December 13 deadline, hoteliers are adapting.
From our correspondent. – Moroccan hoteliers have deployed all their adaptability since the start of the Covid 19 pandemic, but this time their patience is very close to reaching its limits. After announcing the suspension of flights with France on November 26, Morocco finally decided at the last minute to purely and simply close its skies for all direct passenger flights for a period of two weeks from the evening of November 29. .
The reason ? There “ rapid spread of new variant of covid 19 virus “Omicron” especially in Europe and Africa “and the will” to preserve the achievements made by Morocco in the fight against the pandemic », Indicates a press release from the interministerial Covid monitoring committee. As of December 1, while the cumulative number of people fully vaccinated with two doses amounted to 22.68 million and with three doses to 1.69 million, there were 171 new cases, one of the lowest levels of daily contamination. since the start of the pandemic. It is to say if the decision caused the amazement of the professionals of tourism. “ Hoteliers try to maintain employment and with it social cohesion, but each time a recovery begins, our hopes are brutally cut off “regretted the manager of a palace in Marrakech for whom the situation is” dramatic “. While the end-of-year celebrations foreshadowed “ the great return of Marrakesh “, as summarized by Alexandre Leymarie, director of the Beldi Country Club, the question was on everyone’s lips: will foreign travelers, French in particular, be able to come and celebrate the change of year in Morocco?
Deleting cascading flights
And all to look towards the sky which seemed less and less favorable over the hours, the airlines liking nothing less than uncertainty. After Easyjet, which took the lead in canceling its flight plan until the end of December, Transavia has decided to cancel all its France/Morocco flights until January 2 inclusive (while providing Morocco/France flights at least until December 12). As for the low cost company Ryanair, it announced on Wednesday the suspension of all its flights to Morocco until February 1, 2022 in a press release regretting “ the lack of clarity from the Moroccan authorities ” and “ the lingering uncertainty ” indicates the local press, which represents a total of 230,000 passengers.
For the other companies, the suspense remains while waiting to find out whether the closure measure will be extended or repealed. Royal Air Maroc has announced that it will suspend its flights until December 13 at 11:59 p.m., with a special flight program until December 6 in the meantime. For its part, Air France has canceled all its rotations until December 5, continuing to provide repatriation flights at blocked prices between Morocco and France depending on the authorizations. And TuiFly interrupts its program from France until December 22 inclusive, hoping to resume operations on the 23rd.
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The schedules have started to empty for the holidays, even if customers, especially regulars, are still waiting for the last moment. “ Almost all reservations for the week of Christmas were pulverized in a few days when we were full“, deplores Eros Abrile, general manager of the boutique hotel Les Deux Tours in the palm grove, which has closed its doors temporarily until December 18, which was not planned even in this low season period. For the riads, which had finally resumed their activity thanks to the All Saints holidays, the suspense promises to be long.
“ The atmosphere is gloomy », summarizes Stéphane Leroy, president of the Association of Guest Houses of Marrakech and the South (MGH) who does not spare his efforts to support his members. “ Many are closing their riads for the current two weeks“. “ It feels like going back two years sighs in echo Stéphanie Guimberteau, who has been living for a long time in the medina where she manages five riads. “ Except that today we are at the end of our financial capacities, we have reinvested everything to be on top for the holidays and for 2022 “.
Bridgehead of tourism for the end of year celebrations, will Marrakech shine with all its fires? If the state of health emergency has been extended until December 31, nightlife – apart from discos and casinos – has resumed its rights since the lifting of the curfew in early November. And the hotels are maintaining or organizing the planned festivities for the moment while being ready to draw up plans B if the closure of the sky is prolonged. “ We will adapt as always “, emphasizes Kenza Zizi, marketing director of the Royal Mansour, “ the schedule of our restaurants remains unchanged and we are going to have a very nice decoration this weekend. The magic of Christmas will be there to make our customers dream “. For many hoteliers, however, it risks leaving a bitter taste, the specter of bankruptcy having never been so present.
A sign that life goes on despite everything, Marrakech is about to officially launch M Avenue, a new 5-hectare tourist-cultural district located near La Menara which will soon host the Pestana CR7 Lifestyle hotel of footballer Cristiano Ronaldo. Starring in particular at the inauguration, the Meydene, its 3000 m2 cultural center with permanent exhibition space, immersive space, theater and rooftop dedicated to authentic Moroccan culinary art. A new spot to discover as soon as the sky reopens. Answer in a few days…