A total of 7.45 million tourists visited Morocco last year, i.e. a 13% increase compared to 2006, which yielded some US$7.7 billion, Moroccan Tourism and Craft Industry Minister, Mohamed Boussaid, has declared recently. Graded hotels posted 16.9 million nights, say a 3% rise compared to the year before, the minister said, according to MAP.
The French continue to top the list with 2.85 million tourists, followed by the Spaniards (1.6 million), the Belgians (431,000), the British (419,000), the Italians (370,000), the Dutch (361.000) and the Germans (296,000).
Except for the southern cities of Ouarzazate that recorded a 3% drop and Agadir whose figures have remained stable, all the other tourist destinations received more tourists. Casablanca topped the list with 9%, followed by Fez (center) (+8%), Rabat (+5%), Marrakech (+5%) and Tangier (+3%).
The minister stated tourism has become the chief source of investments and jobs creation in the Kingdom, as well as a driving force for sustainable development, contributing 8% to the GDP. The kingdom has set the goal of attracting 10 million tourists by 2010. To that end, it has devised a strategy dubbed "Vision 2010" which provides for creating 160,000 beds, thus bringing the national capacity to 230,000 beds. It also aims at creating some 600,000 new jobs.