The 29th edition of “Tourism Tuesdays”, organized by Premium Travel News, puts sport in the spotlight. Entitled “Sports tourism: between potential and reality?” », this conference was an opportunity to discuss the place of sport as a lever for tourism and economic development, with the participation of Mehdi Sekkouri Alaoui, President of the Moroccan Federation of Sports Professionals, and Othmane Cherif Alami, President of the Casablanca-Settat Regional Tourism Council.
According to the UNWTO, sports tourism is one of the fastest growing tourist segments. More and more tourists are interested in sporting activities during their travels. After returning to the concept of sports tourism and its components, Othmane Cherif Alami immediately raised the changes that the sector is experiencing in the digital age, making particular reference to the remarkable development of online games and e-sport. . “It’s a concept that we must include in our services,” he said.
Factual, Othmane Cherif Alami does not hide his face regarding the state of sports tourism in Morocco. “Today, less than 1% of GDP is represented by sports and tourism activities. We are very far from the minimum of 5% to have a certain visibility”, he lamented, also regretting the lack of actions to propel Morocco in this direction: “The intentions were not followed in terms of investments, taxation, facilities, availability, and training. »
“I believe that on the job, we achieved a respectable sport and tourism service delivery in the various hotel units, and then we saw the development of great destinations thanks to golf which was one of the first vectors presenting itself to modern marketing. with the famous Hassan II trophy. It’s not as much as there has been ancillary investment to benefit golf,” he said. And to continue: “we have the great tourist capital of Marrakech, which was one of the first to launch large golf courses, backed by real estate projects, backed by hotels and hotel units. »
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Othmane Cherif Alami referred to Morocco’s achievements, particularly with regard to water sports between Essaouira and Dakhla, Surfing in the regions of Casablanca, Larache and Imsouane, the Atlas Rally, the cycling tour of Morocco, or again the marathon of the sands. However, he believes that “this is largely insufficient given Morocco’s potential”.
The observation is the same for Mehdi Sekkouri Alaoui who raised the weaknesses of the links between sport and tourism in Morocco, to which, according to him, we must give more influence and put them more forward, in particular on the part of public decision-makers. . “There was a turning point at the beginning of the 2010s when we had the start of a policy of hosting major international events, in particular by the inauguration of major infrastructures including the large stadium in Marrakech. We realized at that time that sport can bring a lot of things to the country,” he said. “Without sufficient means from the State to promote and multiply major events, we will not be able to go further than that in terms of events and sports,” he continued.
“We definitely need to step up a gear. We are in 2022 and sport and tourism must be strategic, as engines of development, image and promotion of Moroccan tourist capital but also of the territories. With the means we have, we must increasingly calculate the impact on tourism and the territory,” said Othmane Cherif Alami.
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Mehdi Sekkouri Alaoui distinguishes two types of sports tourists, the “spectator” tourist who is attracted by the spectacle, who will travel to attend major competitions, and there is the “actor” tourist, who wants to discover a destination and at the same time doing physical exercise (hiking, scuba diving, etc.).
Far from big events, Mehdi Sekkouri Alaoui notes that in Morocco, sport and tourism have come very close in the era of Covid 19. “During the Covid, the Moroccan rediscovered sport, and also rediscovered his country due to border closures. “The offers of sports activities have increased considerably and have also diversified.” For Othmane Cherif Alami, it is necessary to capitalize on this newly installed internal trend, to make inclusion through sport. “These young people who have no internship, diploma or job, and who after training for 8 to 12 months, become certified sports coaches, and return to the big hotel clubs to work there”, he said. declared. “Sport for all must start with young people, putting sports education back in primary schools,” he concluded.
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The cycle of conferences “Les Mardis du Tourisme” aims to create debate around a problem and contribute to positioning the tourism sector as a priority sector on the agendas of public authorities and private actors directly or indirectly linked by that sector.