Tourist numbers in Morocco jump 10 percent in 2018's first half

Mövenpick Hotel Mansour Eddahbi Marrakech, Morocco. Photo credit: Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts(Image: Movenpick Hotels & Resorts)

Morocco welcomed approximately 5.1 million visitors in the first half of 2018, jumping 10 percent from the same period in 2017, according to  Morocco's Tourism Observatory. 

Tourist arrivals from Italy made the most significant increase during the period, rising 18 percent. Germany followed close behind with a 13-percent increase. 

France came in third place with a 10-percent increase while Holland's tourist numbers rose 8 percent. The number of travelers from UK rose 7 percent while the number of travelers from Spain increased 6 percent. The number of Moroccan arrivals who lived abroad increased 1 percent. 

The first half of 2018 also saw an increase in overnight stays. Morocco's hotels and guesthouses recorded a 10-percent increase in overnight stays. The number of non-resident tourist grew 13 percent while resident traveler numbers rose 3 percent. 

Hotels in Marrakech and Casablanca recorded the highest number of overnight stays, rising 56 percent in each city from the same period last year. Agadir followed close behind with a 55-percent increase in overnight stays. 

The overall occupancy rate at Morocco's hotels reached 44 percent in the first half of 2018. The hotels' revenue generated from non-resident tourists to the country rose 15.2 percent from MAD 27 billion in the first half of last year to MAD 31.2 billion by the end of June 2018. 

Chinese tourist numbers surge

Morocco recorded a massive influx of Chinese travelers, especially in the summer. The growth began once Chinese tourists were exempted from applying for visas in June 2016. Chinese passport holders can receive 90-day visas once they arrive in the country.

Approximately 120,000 Chinese tourists arrived in Morocco in the first five months of 2018. Chinese tourist numbers in Morocco reached 107,500 in 2017, compared to the 43,000 tourists recorded in 2016. 

The Moroccan government aims to make the country one of the top 20 travel destinations for Chinese tourists by 2020.