Saturday, July 30, 2016

Moroccan Tourism Takes a Hit

Morocco's tourism industry is struggling. In the first five months of 2016 Morocco has welcomed just 3.48 million visitors, 1.4% less than the same period last year

According to the Tourism Observatory. The flow of international tourists fell by 4.5% in late May. This decline is across the main source markets for tourists to Morocco, including the UK (-7%), Germany (-7%), Italy (-6%) and France (-3 %). The one exception was The Netherlands, with Dutch tourists up 2%.

Overnight stays in tourist accommodation has decreased by 1.4% at the end of May, compared to the same period of 2015 (-5.5% for non-resident tourists and 8.4% for residents ).

Figures from the Tourism Observatory also show that the two tourist centres, Marrakech and Agadir, continue to provide the bulk of the country's tourism. They generated 60% of total overnight stays in the first five months of 2016, even though the nights were flat in Marrakech and were down 2% in Agadir.

The other destinations showed mixed results, with a 20% drop in Fez, a 3% decrease in Rabat and an increase of 6% each for the cities of Casablanca and Tangier.

The drop of numbers coming to Fez is particularly worrying with Riad owners struggling to maintain staff levels in near empty riads.

The occupancy rate, across Morocco reached 38% at end May 2016, down three points from the end of May 2015.

Revenue generated by nonresident tourists amounted to 21.5 billion dirhams, against 20.2 billion a year earlier.

Despite the downturn, Ryanair has increased to 55 routes for the winter season 2016-2017. This includes flights already operating to Agadir, Fez, Marrakech, Nador, Oujda, Rabat and Tangier.

New routes include; an Agadir London-Stansted flight and between Toulouse and Fez effective from November 1. Ryanair also plans flights between Marrakech and Tangier, from Liverpool and Frankfurt-Hahnn from October 31.

Marrakech tourism is flat

With its fifty flights to Morocco, the Irish company aims to carry 2.7 million passengers per year.

The World Tourism Organisation has just published a report that shows the ranking of countries in the Arab world and the Mediterranean.

Morocco is ranked first among Arab countries with 10.8 million tourists, followed by Egypt with 9,620,000 and Tunisia with 6.06 million visitors. In this ranking, Algeria and Lebanon occupy the last places respectively with 2.3 million and 1.35 million.

The same report indicates that before the war Syria had registered 8.5 million visitors.

Given the situation in Turkey, Morocco is expected to benefit as tourists avoid Istanbul and Ankara due to the unrest and potential for more turmoil.


Amazigh Language - a Three Step Introduction

While the parliamentary session almost coming to an end, the General Secretariat of the Government has finally released the draft law to empower the Amazigh language. The head of government and all ministers have received a copy
An Amazigh child writes in Tifinagh, the script of Tamazight

This project adopts the principle of progressive implementation of the Amazigh language as an official language of the kingdom. The plan includes three major steps.

A first step over five years will be devoted to the gradual introduction of the language at all levels of basic education, as well as being included in the struggle against illiteracy. During this period, the speeches, the royal messages and official statements will be broadcast on Amazigh TV and radio.

A second 10-year period will be devoted to the generalisation of the Amazigh in colleges and high schools and will also see the introduction of courses at the tertiary level. In addition, an official journal is to be created by the parliament where the texts will be published in Arabic and Amazigh languages ​​and all official documents (identity card, driving license, passport etc.) will include data in Amazigh .

The third period, spanning 15 years, will see the widespread use of the Amazigh language in all public facilities and services, with all documents being written in both official languages.

The Amazigh languages and dialects have had a written tradition, on and off, for over 2,200 years, although the tradition has been frequently disrupted by invasions. They were first written in the Tifinagh alphabet, still used by the Tuareg. The oldest dated inscription is from about 200 BCE. Later, between about 1000 CE and 1500 CE, they were written in the Arabic script, and since the 20th century in the Amazigh (Berber) Latin alphabet, especially among the Kabyle and Riffian communities of Morocco and Algeria. The Berber Latin alphabet was also used by most European and Amazigh linguists during the 19th and 20th centuries.

A modernised form of the Tifinagh alphabet was made official in Morocco in 2003.


Moroccan Museums Get an Upgrade

Yesterday, Friday, July 29th, the Museum of the Kasbah in Tangier was renamed The Kasbah Museum of Mediterranean Cultures and opened its doors to the public after several months of renovation at a cost of around 2.5 million dirhams. Part of the budget (1.3 million dirhams) was kindly donated by a French citizen, resident in Morocco
Now open: "The Kasbah of Mediterranean Cultures"

Mehdi Qotbi, president of the National Museums Foundation (FNM) explained, "We felt the urgency to raise the the various museums of Morocco to international museum standards. So we are not going to wait for state funds to start these projects".

The Kasbah Museum of Mediterranean Culture in Tangier is the first in a series of thirteen projects to upgrade of all Moroccan museums. Two museums whose current renovation work began in 2016 should also open their doors by the end of the year.

The next museums to be upgraded is the Archaeological Museum of Rabat which will probably be renamed The Rbati Museum of History and Civilisations.

This will be followed by the Batha Museum in Fez, whose construction was begun in May. According to  Mehdi Qotbi, "The work in Fez includes the consolidation and restoration of the building as well as upgrading its electricity. The three magnificent carved rooms, dating back 300 years, will also be restored".

The Batha Museum in Fez

The Batha museum work has required a budget of around ten million dirhams. Work will also include the creation of reception areas and road signs. Like most others museums it will also be renamed The Batha Museum of Islamic Art.

"We want to strengthen the identity of museums so that they are complementary to each other," said Mehdi Qotbi, who believes that the name of each museum will now "be in line with where it is located and the collections that it presents to the public."

In 2017 the Safi Museum of Ceramics of Safi and The Dar El Bacha Museum in Marrakech should be open to the public.


Friday, July 29, 2016

Has Morocco's VoIP Problem Ended?

... or is it just a temporary reprieve?
For the last two days VoIP calls, including WhatsApp, FaceTime, Skype and Viber, have been working again in Morocco when connecting through a Wi-Fi network

Since the afternoon of 27 July, calls through IP (VoIP) using major mobile application are running again. Tel Quel magazine reported that it had tested the functionality of the different applications, repeatedly and say that it is now possible to make voice and video calls from Morocco via these services.

Since January 2016 the National Telecommunications Regulatory Agency (ANRT) had born the brunt of the anger over blocking. It's move, which appears to have been financially motivated, caused  a backlash from Moroccans abroad and at home. Thankfully, a majority of Moroccans soon found technological ways to bypass the blocking and have been able to contact their families without problems.

The ANRT has not commented on  the new situation, their communication department only saying that "there is nothing new since January".  The major telephone companies also say they have not been notified of the changed situation. While this could be a face-saving retreat without fanfare, there is certainly no assurance that the return to normal will continue.

While the free calls work well with a WiFi connection, when the connection is via cellular data networks (3G and 4G), calls still do not work.

This return to normal communications, while possibly only partial, came a day after the publication by the ANRT of the latest figures for the consumption of telecommunications in Morocco. "At the end of Q2 of 2016, the price of mobile communications declined by an annual rate of 23%. At the same time the average bill per Internet customer increased by 4%".   The title of the release was "Mobile Internet stimulates the growth of Internet subscribers".


Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Three Days of Sufi Events Near Fes

The 28th, 29th and 30th of July are the dates for the first Hamadcha Festival in Sidi Ali ben Hamdouch. The festival is being directed by Abdedrrahim Amrani

According to the director there will also be performances by groups from around the country. For more information, please contact Abderrahim

Abderrahim Amrani

The View From Fez is proud to support this event as a sponsor


Thursday, July 21, 2016

Extraordinary Security at Mohammed V Airport Upsets Travellers

Both local travellers and tourists are united in condemning the security measure that has caused visitors arriving to welcome friends, family or tourists, being forced to wait outside the terminal building in the extreme summer heat

The situation has been described by The Economist as "a mess" and describes the situation as "harsh". Tourist operators are more blunt, saying that treating people like sheep is embarrassing and does not give arriving visitors a feeling of being welcomed by the usual Moroccan hospitality. Similar conditions are replicated at other airports such as Fez.

The reason for this herding outside of the public is not a response to the summer influx, but rather a rather ham-fisted security measure. As The Economist points out... "It remains an open question as to its effectiveness: the crowds (and soliciting clients by taxi drivers) is now avoided inside but eventually ends up at ... outside! Which slows the flow of travellers and gives rise to messy scenes".

On the other hand the increased security inside the terminal appears to be working well.

Meanwhile, the number of passengers at Mohammed V airport in Casablanca has grown by 4.47% in May compared to the same period last year. The figures were released by ONDA, the national airport office.

The figures show that 707,790 travellers used the airport in May compared to 677,514 the same period a year earlier.

Passengers on board flights to or from Europe decreased by 1.56%, whereas travellers to or from Latin America and Asia registered a considerable rebound of 47.56% and 16.35% respectively. The number of domestic passengers rose by 9.56%.

In terms of the number of travellers by country, France tops the list with 150.310 passengers, followed by Italy (51, 327), Spain (36,502) and Turkey (26,497).


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Fes Festival of World Sacred Music 2017

The dates have been announced for the 23rd edition of the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music. It will take place between May 12th and 20th

Now that the dates are known it is important to book accomodation as soon as possible as it can be in short supply.

In 2017 The View From Fez will once again be an official Media Partner and bring you the most extensive previews and reviews. You can have a look back at the 2016 Festival HERE


Talent Show in Fez

The American Language Center in Fez is holding a special event on Sunday, July 24th, to collect books for children in two centres in Fez.  They need books in English, French and Arabic

You can help by coming along to the ALC Fes Talent show - price of admission is a book!

The Amazing Talent Show and Book Drive will take place at 6 PM in the garden of the ALIF Villa Residence, 28 Rue Mohammed Diouri, across from the ALC.

Your book contribution will assist  in building libraries for the Girls' Centre in Ziat and the Boys' Centre in Batha.