After months of entry stop: Morocco opens borders

Status: 07.02.2022 7:49 p.m

Morocco closed its borders months ago – because of the spread of the omicron variant. Many tourist spots then resembled ghost towns. Now the country is welcoming tourists again.

By Dunja Sadaqi, ARD-Studio Nordwestafrika

One of the first planes since the border was closed in November lands at Rabat/Salé Airport in Morocco’s capital. For three months, the kingdom had closed its borders due to the spread of the omicron variant. The short-term decision at the end of November had resulted in numerous Moroccans being stuck abroad for months.

Dunja Sadaqi
ARD-Studio Discount

Felt forgotten – far from home

Just like Yasmina’s son Hamza, whom she was able to hug again at the airport: “Seeing all the families who are reunited touched me. So many feelings that I can pick up my son at the airport – after five months . There is nothing worse than being apart. We have been brave and patient and now we are reunited, thank God. I hope and pray that the pandemic and suffering will end.”

Many Moroccans abroad fared like their son. They felt a bit forgotten, describes Moroccan Soumaya Ragragui. She has lived in Paris for years.

“The[government’s]decisions always come at the last minute. Morocco is one of the few countries that since the pandemic began in 2020 has never had a clear, effective and immediate policy to bring back Moroccans who were stuck abroad. Many have had it’s hard – and then the people who have lost someone or a family member who has become ill. It’s a crime to keep them from coming back.”

Tourism industry suffers extremely

For the third time since the pandemic began, Morocco had closed borders in the fight against Corona. Because the tourism industry in particular is suffering, many took to the streets in January to protest. Tourism strongholds such as southern Marrakech are particularly affected, but also the blue pearl – as the city of Chefchaouen in northern Morocco is called.

Abdesslam El Moudden has a hotel here. His city hasn’t been the same since the pandemic, he says: “The sector brings many people jobs – especially young people in the city – and not just them. The restaurants, the vendors in the markets, the tourist guides – it’s difficult because they The city lives largely from tourism and has become a ghost town.”

Opening of the borders – a new start

Therefore, many are now relying on the opening of the border so that the tourists can finally come back. Tour operator Henri Abikzer from Rabat welcomes the open borders. But he also says that the measures against the pandemic have caused lasting damage to the industry: “We are on the brink. How do we deal with it? Well, we are in debt and waiting for better days to be able to repay our debts. The opening of the borders there may be some oxygen to restart, but the damage is significant, we won’t bounce back tomorrow, it will take a few years.”

Anyone who wants to enter Morocco can do so again from Monday – with a current vaccination certificate and a negative PCR test (within 48 hours). On arrival, travelers must currently expect to have to take an additional test at the airport.

Oxygen for tourism – Morocco opens borders

Dunja Sadaqi, ARD Rabat, 7.2.2022 · 19:40

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