(MENAFN - Morocco Business News) The number of tourists that visited Morocco in 2009 reached 8.35 million, registering an increase of 6% relative to 2008, the newly appointed Tourism Minister, Yassir Znagui, said on Thursday.
However, in spite of this increase in the number of tourists, tourism revenues stood at MAD 52.4 billion (about USD 6.7 billion), dropping 5.7% compared to the previous year, said Znagui at the opening session of the third Moroccan Travel Market held in Marrakech.
"The tourist sector has showed resilience through realizing a more than honorable performance in such a year as 2009, marked by a difficult economic context," the minister boasted.
He also pointed out that the sector, accounting for 9% of GDP and employing over 420,000 people, attracted investments of MAD 10.8 billion, which are expected to create up to 8,840 more job opportunities.
Speaking about last year's achievements, Znagui added that 13,000 new beds were created, 40% of them in the red city of Marrakech.
"These results are the fruit of cooperation between the public and the private sectors, as well as good anticipation and innovation capacity," stressed the Moroccan minister, adding that they also show that the right strategic choices have been made.
According to organizers, the Moroccan travel Market, to continue till January 17, is expected to receive up to 13,000 national and international professional visitors and decision makers.
The Market, whose program features business meetings and thematic conferences, mainly aims to be a platform for the development of the sector in Morocco.
Last year, Morocco's king, Mohammed VI, had called on the government to prepare a new tourist vision for the year 2020, building on the achievement of the '2010 Vision'.
"Before the end of the year, the government should therefore seek to develop a tourist vision for the future, up to the year 2020," the king had said in a message to the participants in the ninth National Tourism Forum, held in the Mediterranean town of Saidia.
The new vision "must be both flexible and sustainable and should take into account international tourism trends, the challenges of globalization and likely developments in the world economy," he had specified.