‘While we want people to visit us, we want them to respect us, as well.” — Rachid Maaninou, Moroccan National Tourist Office
Resort developments pop up along Morocco coastline
Continued from Page 55
2007 to 2011,” he said. “They will be environmentally friendly; hotels will only be
one floor high, and only 20% of resort land
will be developed.”
In addition to the six Azur Plan initia-
tives, global investors are busy enhancing
tourism infrastructure across Morocco.
For example, developers from Dubai are
investing $5 billion in Rabat and $2 billion
in a mountain ski resort at Oukaimeden.
Qatari businessmen are putting $2 billion
into Tangier, where a new container port for
cargo will free up existing ports at Tangier
and Casablanca for leisure vessels.
A new highway — and, eventually, the
development of high-speed rail — between
Tangier and Marrakech will take hours off
In Marrakech, luxury hotel brands
such as Four Seasons, Mandarin Oriental,
Beachcomber Royal Palm, Lucien Barriere
Fouquet’s and Octagon are planning new
Investments in Morocco will total about
$40 billion over 20 years, according to
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Will it sell?
Morocco may build it, but will Americans
come? Given the rise in anti-U.S. sentiment
across the Islamic world, Maaninou acknowledged that American travelers might
be hesitant to vacation in what’s perceived
to be a Middle Eastern destination.
However, Morocco is historically counted
among the most cosmopolitan and diverse
Muslim nations. “Morocco is a very tolerant country,” said Maaninou. “It’s a country,
for example, where Jews and Muslims have
lived together for centuries with few problems. We don’t say there are no problems in
Morocco, but we face them.”
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As a parliamentary monarchy, Morocco is
ruled by secular law. Hence, alcohol is available to non-Muslim visitors at all times.
That said, the MNTO encourages Western vacationers to demonstrate sensitivity
to cultural norms, said Maaninou.
“We have launched a huge program of
responsible tourism because while we want
people to visit us, we want them to respect
us, as well,” he said. “We have our own culture and religion, and there are things tourists should not do. For example, you can
drink, but you shouldn’t be completely inebriated on the street.”
Alcohol is available everywhere, but no
sales are permitted after 7 p.m. in supermarkets.
Also, visiting women generally may dress
as they wish in public.
For more information, visit www.visit
morocco.com or call (407) 264-0133.