Maghreb Countries Unite at Berlin Tourism Convention

140311Feature3Photo1-650_429Tourism professionals from Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya this week showcased Maghreb products and attractions to the world’s largest travel trade fair.

Morocco participated in the International Tourism Exchange in Berlin, which wrapped up in the German capital on Sunday (March 9th), as part of Tourism Minister Lahcen Haddad’s plan to make the kingdom a world leader in environmental travel.

“Our 2020 strategy for developing tourism relies on development and job creation,” said Nada Roudies, secretary-general of the Moroccan tourism ministry. “We now seek to be among the world’s top 20 countries in attracting tourists, and we aspire to be a model tourist area in the Mediterranean Sea.”

Algeria aims to make the sector a pillar of its national economy. The country looks to shed light on its history, identity and natural and historical attractions. The Algerian pavilion at the German trade show highlighted the country’s history, identity and natural attractions. It also had a strong presence of handcrafts to attract foreign visitors.

“To us as Maghreb citizens, tourism is one of the important economic hubs in our countries,” Anbees Hocine of the Algerian Tourism Ministry told Magharebia.

“We want to make tourism an economic, cognitive, social and cultural… bridge between us and our Maghreb neighbours,” he said.

The Algerian official added: “To us, Tunisia and Morocco represent good and strong experiences in promoting the beach tourist products.”

“Our strength in Algeria is that we have a large desert, and we seek to promote the desert, cultural tourist products. We have long experience in this type of tourism, and therefore, Morocco and Tunisia can benefit from us in this field,” he said.

The Tunisian wing at the event showcased artisans. Experienced travel agents also promoted beach holiday products.

Tunisia’s travel sector was hit hard just after during the revolution, but the country now seeks to heal its wounds.

“Tunisia is an open country to its neighbours,” Lassaâd Chebbi, a representative of the Tunisian tourist commission, told Magharebia at the German expo.

“The biggest market in terms of tourists coming to Tunisia is the Libyan market, as more than 2 million Libyans entered Tunisia in 2013. The Algerian market is important as well, accounting for about 600,000 tourists. As to the Moroccan market, the number doesn’t exceed 35,000, but we’re trying to encourage Moroccans to come to visit Tunisia in spite of geographical distance.”

Libya also sought at the Berlin show to present its image as a new, free, democratic country that broke all ties with the previous era.

Abdul Samie Amer Matloub, the deputy Libyan tourism minister, told Magharebia. “We took part in the event to establish contacts with tourist companies and create new relations with neighbouring countries.”

“Libya is going through very tough circumstances,” he added. “As a tourism ministry, we hope the country will stabilise soon and that we’ll have a presence on the Maghreb tourist map.”

As to Maghreb co-operation, Amer said, “We’re trying to see the pioneering experiences of our Maghreb neighbours to benefit from them.”

“We want diverse tourism whereby tourists can come to Morocco, then pass to Algeria, and cross to Tunisia and Libya,” he said.

“Libya is calling for the establishment of a Maghreb tourist union so we may become one of the most important tourist hubs in the world,” he added.140311Feature3Photo1-650_429