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Schengen visas, PCR test,… Moroccans prepare for their holidays

Travel agencies are preparing offers as usual for customers who choose to spend their holidays outside Morocco

With the improvement in the health situation and the lifting of the majority of restrictive measures, it will be easier to travel next summer. The tourism industry professionals we contacted expect Moroccan destinations to be very popular in the coming summer season. For trips abroad, we note that the obligation of the PCR test and the tightening of the granting of the Schengen visa, slow down several travelers.

Summer is fast approaching. It’s now or never to start preparing for the big holidays. Some have already been there for a few weeks. It must be said that after two years of health restrictions, Moroccans are eager to go on a trip with their families and fully enjoy their vacation. “We are planning to go to Turkey this summer. We have missed this kind of trip so much. The children are very happy and eager to leave. It feels so good to finally be able to reconnect with our old habits from before the crisis, ”says Hasnaa, 37, mother of two children.

Whether at home, at work or on the web, preparations for the summer holidays are a topic that has fueled discussions lately. On the groups of travelers on social networks, Internet users share their experiences, their plans and learn about offers, travel conditions… We note, however, that many of them encounter several difficulties in obtaining the Schengen visa. . It is, in fact, a veritable obstacle course faced by visa applicants. From making the appointment on the sites that don’t work to validating the file, which takes longer than expected, you have to be very patient. “Spain and France are among the favorite destinations of Moroccans. As summer approaches, requests for visas to travel to these countries have exploded. Several people have had to face almost systematic refusals, sometimes unjustified, not to mention the difficulties in obtaining appointments”, declared to the “Matin” Khalid Benazouz, president of the Regional Association of Travel Agencies of Casablanca-Settat ( ARAVCS).

The latter underlines, moreover, that a large number of Moroccans wish to spend the summer holidays abroad this year. “The tourism sector, which was strongly impacted during the health crisis, is delighted with the opening of the borders and the resumption of our activity. Travel agencies are preparing offers as usual for customers who choose to spend their holidays outside Morocco. In addition to European countries like France, Spain, Portugal…, Moroccans still appreciate Turkey and Dubai. These two destinations are very popular,” says Benazouz. The president of the ARAVCS also stresses that there is still one criterion that bothers tourism professionals a lot. This is the obligation of the PCR test and the vaccination pass for people returning to Morocco by air. “This condition is causing us to lose a lot of customers. The high cost of the PCR test, which varies between 80 and 100 euros, makes many people hesitate, especially those traveling with family. It’s a hell of an extra budget to plan for. It must be canceled quickly as was the case for travel by sea, ”says Benazouz.

The tour operator also notes that several Moroccans have chosen to spend their holidays in Morocco, either for lack of means or for fear of getting stuck somewhere. “Moroccans have not completely overcome their fear of the pandemic. Some dare not go abroad because they are afraid of being blocked. Others cannot do it for lack of financial means. The health crisis and the current inflation have had a significant impact on the purchasing power of all Moroccans,” he explains. “We expect there to be a lot of domestic travel this summer. Reservations have started and it is expected that there will be no more places in hotels for latecomers in tourist cities like Marrakech, Agadir, Houceima, Saidia, Ouarzazate… Moroccans will leave to discover their family country. We are very optimistic”, develops Benazouz.

Same story with Wissal El Gharbaoui, the secretary general of the National Confederation of Tourism (CNT). “As for the domestic market, we believe it will continue to behave positively for the upcoming summer season. But this will not be enough to make up for the losses of two years of cessation of activity and will not make up for all the shortfall in international markets, which represent 70% of tourist activity in our country”. The manager also points out that the summer season is likely to be shorter this year, if schools postpone the summer holidays until August, as was announced at the start of the year.

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The health protocol is still maintained… for now

As the summer holidays approach, many people are wondering on social networks about the conditions of travel abroad, especially since there has been a lot of talk lately about a future reduction in the health protocol. . Know that for the moment, the conditions have not changed. For travel by air, it is always mandatory to present a negative PCR test in addition to the vaccination pass, for travel by boat only one of the two is required.
Remember that doctors, scientists and parliamentarians have all expressed themselves in favor of the reduction of the health protocol. A decision eagerly awaited by professionals in the tourism sector. “In general, we welcome the resumption of international air links and maritime links to and from our country, after a period of suspension which has been very trying for our tourist economy, in the context of the health crisis we are experiencing. . The indicators of recovery of international tourist activity are encouraging, but we note that we are still missing 50% of our natural market share, due to the maintenance of restrictive conditions of access to national territory, namely the vaccination pass and the PCR test,” says Wissal El Gharbaoui. And to add: “This condition represents a constraint in particular in terms of the cost of this test. For a family of four, for example, we quickly reach 400 euros. It becomes a dissuasive condition!”

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