Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco are emerging as one of the preferences of tourists thanks to good air connections and the offer of tourist products
With an ancient culture, sun, sea, paradisiacal beaches, good air connectivity and a wide range of wholesalers, the countries of North Africa bring together all the necessary elements to become star destinations for your next vacation.
After two years of pandemic, where the tourism sector has been operating at half throttle, Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco have prepared thoroughly to welcome tourists again. Therefore, reactivating activity, adapting the destination to the new protocols and taking care of travelers are the key axes for the new era of tourism in the region.
Egypt, open destination
The Egyptian Tourism Authority has indicated that the African country is nominated among those preferred by tourists for travel as a safe destination open to international tourism in 2022.
To guarantee the safety of travelers, the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities has implemented the Plan for the Resumption of Tourism, with a catalog of strict safety and hygiene measures in hotels and resorts, museums and archaeological sites, cruise ships and other locations. tourist.
The rigor, control and transparency in observing these measures allowed Egypt to reopen the destination to international tourism on July 1, 2020.
“We vaccinate all workers in the tourism sector for the safety of tourists. In addition, the Government offers additional guarantees in the case of infections between travelers,” explains Magued Abou Sedera, Undersecretary of State for International Tourism of the Egyptian Tourism Authority.
The result of this management of the pandemic has been that, “practically, there have been no cases of infections among tourists and that Egypt has recovered pre-pandemic figures in 2021, exceeding 13 million tourists,” he adds.
Tunisia, health pass
Given the importance of tourism in the Tunisian economy, the country opted for the vaccination of all employees in the sector and currently 100% are fully vaccinated.
Added to this is that 82% of the population over 40 years of age and 67% of those over 12 years of age are already fully vaccinated, which contributes to the reactivation of tourism due to the perception of a safe destination.
Tunisia has vaccinated 100% of tourism workers.
The director of the Tunisia Tourist Office for Spain and Portugal, Leila Tekaia, highlights the pandemic control model that has been carried out in Tunisia since March 2020, where the measures have been updated regularly.
“Since June 2020, the health protocol, Ready & Safe, has been applied in tourist establishments. In addition, since December 2021, the health pass is mandatory in all public and private premises such as hotels, restaurants, shopping centers and museums,” he explains. .
Tekaia emphasizes that Tunisia It is a “clean, ecological and safe” destination, full of human resources, history and hospitality."Tourists who visit us will find a country with deep European roots and a universe of oases and deserts."
Morocco, Welcome Safely certificate
Like its main competitors, vaccination is one of Morocco's main weapons to attract international travelers again. We must not forget that it is one of the first African destinations in number of vaccinated people. It began its vaccination campaign in January 2020 and now more than 63.1% of the population is vaccinated with the complete schedule.
The country reopened its air borders on February 7 after being closed for more than two months to stop the expansion of the omicron variant.
The Moroccan authorities have developed a strategy in the fight against COVID that has stood out as one of the best "worldwide", according to official sources from the Moroccan National Tourist Office.
And to guarantee the application of the health measures recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) for the safety and health of all, Morocco has required all tourist service establishments to adopt all hygiene and safety measures aimed at guarantee a pleasant stay for all its clients.
Morocco has seen an increase in reserves since its opening. ©ONMT
On the other hand, the Ministry of Tourism, Crafts and Social Economy, grants Welcome Safely certification which attests to the compliance of tourist accommodation establishments with COVID-19 control protocols in Morocco.
In general terms, North African destinations are in a good position to reactivate activity and recover Spanish tourism before other regions. For this reason, the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities of Egypt trusts that the gradual recovery of tourism experienced in 2021 will be consolidated in 2022, supported by the inauguration of the Grand Egyptian Museum and other anniversaries such as the 200 years of the decipherment of the Rosetta Stone and the 100 years since the discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb.
“The tourism forecasts for 2022 are extraordinarily positive. We are well on our way to reaching historic numbers of international tourist arrivals, with a double-digit increase compared to 2021,” declares Magued Abou Sedera.
Tunisia, compared to 2020, achieved an increase of 23% in tourist arrivals and 37% in overnight stays.
“The global volume of 9.5 million tourists who traveled to Tunisia in 2019 recovered by 30%, despite the health situation,” reports Tekaia.
For 2022, he is confident that the trend “will continue to rise”, with a greater rebound starting in the third quarter, which will recover 50-60% of arrivals.
The announcement of the reopening of borders on February 7 had a positive effect on reservations towards Morocco. In fact, airlines resumed almost all routes between Spain and the Alawite kingdom, betting heavily on the destination.
In line with the forecasts of tourist destinations, Everyone is hopeful about the reactivation of tourism in North Africa and they expect this upward trend to continue over time. The Moroccan National Tourism Office is clear that travel will grow gradually, among other things because "not all countries will overcome the crisis at the same time."
They think that it is most likely that movements will begin with the closest destinations. In this sense, they are convinced that Morocco, "with its attractive and diverse offer, its proximity, accessibility and health security, is ready to lead this recovery."
Tunisia has recovered 30% of 2019 tourist arrivals.
For Magued Abou Sedera it is difficult to make predictions, but he is forceful in stating that Egypt has managed to recover in “record time” the arrival of tourists it received before the pandemic. “We are prepared for a splendid future,” he declares.
For her part, Leila Tekaia has no doubt that North African destinations will recover before other regions. “They meet all the conditions so that tour operators can propose them to their clients,” he alleges.
Spain, issuing market
For North African destinations, Spain has always been an important issuing market thanks to its relative proximity and good air connectivity.
Before the Tunisian Revolution of 2011, nearly two hundred thousand Spaniards visited the country each year. After the political changes in the country and the arrival of COVID-19, this number does not exceed 10,000 visitors.
However, since the opening of the country's borders, they are registering an increase in Spanish tourists.
“Group reservations are in a starting phase for Easter and summer,” says Leila Tekaia, who adds that they have seen an “increase in individual trips, especially 4X4 expeditions and adventure trips.”
Morocco also perceives a certain increase in bookings from Spanish tourists, since this increase is reflected through the “recovery of all air routes by airlines and the launch of new flights, as well as the scheduling of tour operators.
Magued Abou Sedera regrets that Spanish tourism has not recovered so far "to the same level as the average of international markets", but hopes to "reverse the trend soon."
“We know that there is great interest among Spaniards in returning to Egypt, basically due to the reservations that are beginning to move; everything indicates that it will be one of the star destinations in 2022,” he explains.
For this reason, the country is working with Spanish tour operators and travel agencies to promote the destination and introduce Spaniards to new travel experiences in Egypt.
The different wholesalers consulted by this means confirm the great interest that Spanish tourists have in North African destinations. For this reason, they consider that they will be one of the most requested trips as normality in travel returns.
For Soltour Travel Partners, these destinations are “extremely interesting” for the Spanish issuing market for several reasons.
Firstly, because of the possibility that they offer the traveler to reach the destination with very few hours of flight, secondly, because of the “excellent” quality/price ratio in the services at the destination and, finally, because of the variety of products that make them very interesting for different types of travelers, from those who seek the cultural and archaeological component, to those who prefer alternative vacations with experiences linked to activities in the desert, or simply to those who opt for a sun and beach vacations.
For all these reasons, the company has two tour operators that each offer a different destination proposal, "uniting the solidity and reliability of Soltour, with the innovation and dynamism of Smytravel."
Egypt has established itself as a star destination for wholesalers.
Emilio Rivas, director of the Touroperation, Incoming and Hiring division, holds the same opinion. Ávoris Business Corporation, which specifies that these destinations have always enjoyed a “magnificent positioning” within the Spanish market with a “great attraction for customers”.
“They are countries that offer high quality in their services, which are very easy to get to, and that despite being so close, have a range of very different travel experiences that can sometimes only be accessed by traveling to countries far away. further away,” he points out.
From the wholesaler World Tour They have traditionally opted for Tunisia, Morocco and Egypt because they have always “They have had a significant flow of satisfied travelers”According to Luis Ortiz de Vallejuelo, director of Marketing, Commercial and Quality of the company.
“These are safe places that are characterized by the hospitality of the people, by excellent gastronomy and that once at the destination, there is no need to make large financial outlays,” he adds.
The wholesaler 5 Star Club Egypt has been working as the main destination in North Africa for more than 30 years.
“We are a family business and in our house we have experienced this country with a passion for ancient culture and Egyptology. It is not a bet on the heat of the destiny that it is having lately,” argues Virginia Blasco, CEO of the wholesaler. Furthermore, he adds that this year They have made a strong commitment to have great operational capacity hiring their own charters that allow them to control the product and offer what they want to the market.
Egypt is also the star destination for Icarion, the W2M wholesaler, since it is one of the most important for its market and one of the ones that has placed the least restrictions on tourism.
“Egypt has become a high-demand destination that generates a high degree of satisfaction among our clients,” explains Fernando Sánchez, general director of the tour operator.
Icarion has opted for an operation based on the airline EgyptAir with a “very ambitious operation based on quotas for this company on its flights to Luxor every Saturday.”
Lastly, for Luxotour North Africa is an area where they feel comfortable. “We have ancestral roots there and we know more than anyone how to organize the best trips. In times of globalization, it is good to think about focusing efforts on a part of the world that is very close and that offers us so many attractions,” he confesses.
Finally, remember that the president of Luxotour was a pioneer in offering trips to Morocco in the 60s and that since the company was born the objective has always been North Africa.
After the reopening of destinations, airlines have gradually begun to resume their routes. Guillermo González Vallina, Director of Sales Spain, North Africa and Portugal of Iberia, confirms that from the moment the Moroccan Government reopened its air borders, they rescheduled their flights to Marrakech, Tangier and Casablanca.
Morocco is a destination that wholesalers have traditionally opted for.
“From April we will have 11 weekly frequencies between Madrid and Casablanca, a daily flight with Tangier and 10 weekly frequencies between Madrid and Marrakech,” he says.
In total, the company will exceed 30,000 monthly seats between Spain and Morocco in the coming months.
González Vallina still does not have data on the evolution of these flights since the air borders with Morocco opened on February 7. Despite this, he declares that everything “points to an improvement compared to last year.”
Since mid-April, Air Europe resumes its operations in North Africa flying again from Madrid to Marrakech and Tunisia, with two weekly frequencies in both destinations.
Until the end of the year the airline of the Globalia group makes more than 18,200 seats available to its passengers to both Tunisia and Marrakech.
air France operates from Paris-Charles de Gaulle to Morocco flights to Tangier, Rabat, Casablanca, Marrakech and Agadir. In Algeria it connects with Algiers and Oran and in Tunisia it flies to the capital Tunisia, Djerba and Monastir. Some of these routes are seasonal and are only operated in certain months. The French airline considers the recovery of these flights as “promising”.
These routes respond to the needs of VFR (visiting friends and family) and leisure traffic. In Casablanca and Rabat, it is a combination with business traffic.
Finally, TAP It restarted its flights to Marrakech and Casablanca on February 7.
For the 2022 summer season, it will increase its offer to 35 weekly flights in high season: 13 weekly flights to Marrakech, 12 to Casablanca, four to Tangier and two to Ougda starting in June, and finally four weekly flights to Agadir starting of July.