Morocco’s World Cup success heralds tourism boom

Morocco is expected to see a surge in popularity as a tourist destination after the nation’s recent World Cup success.

The national football team made it further in the tournament than any other African country in history. The “Atlas Lions” reached the semi-finals — the first time that a team from Africa has finished in the top 4 teams.

The spotlight of the World Cup will be welcomed by Morocco’s tourism sector.

Already a popular winter sun destination, Morocco enjoys a warm climate all year round, from its temperate Mediterranean coast to its southern regions in the desert.

World Cup 2022 finals

The introduction of an online visa has made it easier to visit the country. The Moroccan e-Visa is available to South Africans, Malawians, and nationals of various other countries in Africa and worldwide.

The attention on Morocco’s international football squad appears to have only increased its attractiveness as a destination.

Morocco surprised pundits by conceding just one goal in the first 5 matches they played in Qatar. They won games against several of the top-ranked sides in the world, including Belgium, Spain, and Portugal on their path to the semis.

The team were finally eliminated in a 2-0 defeat to defending champions France. They eventually placed 4th in the tournament after also losing the third place play-off to Croatia.

The squad received a hero’s welcome when they returned from Qatar. Crowds came out to cheer the players in Rabat as they passed through the major streets in an open-top bus.

The North African country’s unlikely victories have seen a boom in mentions on social media. The Moroccan National Tourist Office quoted figures of 13 million mentions over the past 30 days from social media monitor Talkwalker. For comparison, Morocco is usually mentioned less than 500,000 times per month.

This surge in attention has not been focussed solely on football. There have also been many mentions of Morocco in relation to holidays.

The past month has seen a rise in winter holiday bookings from the UK, according to tourism minister Fatim-Zahra Ammor. Enquiries on the Visit Morocco website have also increased by 10 times.

“It is important to note these mentions came from a very wide range of countries, where traditionally they were only concentrated in Morocco and parts of Europe,” said Ammor.

“We can only capitalise on this exposure and in the UK we are seeing this enthusiasm transform into tourist arrivals.”

The biggest markets for Moroccan tourism are currently France, the UK, and Ireland, with thousands of visitors from these countries each year. However, the increased prominence of the country after the World Cup may now draw more tourists from other parts of the world, including southern African nations like Malawi.

Morocco has recently made a huge push to boost the number of visitors with its “Kingdom of Light” campaign.

Various new hotels have opened around the nation, including a new Mariott Hotel in Rabat, the Fairmont La Marina Rabat Sale Hotel and Residences, Fairmont Tazi Palace, Tangier, and the Hilton Taghazout Bay Beach Resort & Spa.

The flight capacity has also increased since the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Morocco’s appeal is not just limited to its warm climate, which average at around 23 degrees Celsius in December and often reach the 30s in summer.

Marrakesh is renowned as a beautiful city with stunning architecture and bustling souks. The city’s medina is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Other important cities with plenty to offer for tourists include Fes, Tangier, Casablanca, and the capital, Rabat.

The country’s coastlines on both the Atlantic and Mediterranean offer great spots for beachgoers. The bohemian town of Essaouira is a fantastic place for surfing and windsurfing, as well as a filming location for Game of Thrones.

Agadir is ideal for families in need of a budget beach holiday, with its many seaside resorts on the Atlantic.

Further inland, the Atlas Mountains are perfect for tourists who enjoy hiking and views — some of the vistas over the craggy landscape are simply breathtaking.

The proximity to Spain is also a big draw for many visitors. A 30-minute ferry connects Tangier to Algeciras, making it possible to make a day trip from one country to the other.

With everything it has going for it and after the record-breaking success of its football team in Qatar, Morocco is expected to be a top tourist destination in 2023.

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