by Hanane Thamik
As part of the cooperation dynamic between Morocco and China, a Sino-Moroccan virtual tourism forum was organized by the Chinese Ministry of Culture and Tourism in partnership with the Moroccan Ministry of Tourism, Air Transport, Handicraft, and Social Economy. Over 150 participants from the tourism sector, diplomatic service, and research institutions of the two countries attended the conference.
This forum, which takes place in a particular context marked by the very sharp drop in activity in all tourist destinations, was an opportunity to exchange experiences and best practices to successfully revive the tourism sector. The two parties also agreed to capitalize on the gains made and to continue efforts to further develop future tourist flows between the two countries.
On the sidelines of this forum, workshops dedicated to networking and avenues for tourism development were organized with the participation of Moroccan and Chinese operators. These workshops were an opportunity to discuss good practices and successful experiences while presenting business opportunities in the tourism sector in the two countries.
For his part, the Moroccan Ambassador to China, Mr. Aziz Mekouar, stressed that the holding of a tourism forum between Morocco and China provides an opportunity to exchange views and experiences in tourism cooperation and recovery of the sector affected by the pandemic.
The Forum will have a positive impact on strengthening bilateral cooperation relations, including the promotion of two tourist destinations in the post-pandemic phase.
In this sense, he noted that the royal decision to exempt Chinese citizens from visa requirements, back in 2016, clearly reflects the Kingdom’s desire to strengthen openness to China and strengthen human and cultural exchanges.
Since the visa cancellation in 2016, the number of Chinese tourists to Morocco has increased from 10,000 to around 150,000 tourists in 2019, His Excellency said, adding that the opening of a direct Casablanca-Beijing air link in January 2020 is likely to strengthen exchanges and promote tourism cooperation between the two countries.
The Moroccan diplomat also referred to Morocco’s adhesion, in 2017, to the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative, which aims, among other things, to strengthen ties between peoples, noting that this unique project offers both countries l opportunity to deepen mutual understanding.
Morocco and China have shared for hundreds of years a steady exchange of trade and relations through the Maritime Silk Road. This started when the legendary traveler Ibn Battuta arrived on the shores of China in the year 1345; he was the first to introduce China, especially the Great Wall, to the Western and Arab worlds. At the end of his extensive travels that lasted 29 years, Ibn Battuta narrated his adventures in a travel account, dedicating a whole chapter to his stay in China.
The relationship dates back to November 1958 when Morocco became only the second country in Africa to recognize the People’s Republic of China. The Moroccan-Chinese friendship has continued to strengthen, fostered by mutual understanding, common commitments, and the desire to build win-win partnerships in all fields.
Morocco will always find in China the right partner, with the right attitude to do great things and share a vision of a bright future.
Hanane Thamik is a Ph.D. scholar at the School of Information Management at Wuhan University.
The preceding article expresses the personal opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of CGTN Africa or its staff.