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In Casablanca, tourism supply and demand accelerate growth in 2017

The economic capital of Morocco and biggest city in the country have been more resilient than other destinations in North Africa during the last tumultuous years; nonetheless it slumped. But since 2016, growth in supply and demand to be developing hand in hand, suggesting a return to better times.

Since 2011, the monarchy led by Mohamed VI emerged as an oasis of stability in a feverish and politically unstable region. This stability has allowed the country to avoid tourism disasters that have affected Egypt (see our analysis of Cairo), but it has not prevented a certain moroseness.

In Casablanca, the largest city in the country of which it is the economic capital and an international port, business tourism logically dominates. However, the city has some major tourist assets, such as the Hassan II mosque (which has the highest minaret in the world). Relatively westernized, Casablanca also has a very rich nightlife, which it has had since at least the forties, when the famous film was produced.

While according to the Moroccan Ministry of Tourism, "tourism contributes largely to the creation of wealth and the reduction of unemployment and poverty with a global tourist demand representing about 11.4% of GDP," hotel performances in Casablanca today remain slightly below what they were in 2010, although 2017 should allow professionals to gradually rise back up.

Occupancy rates, which were very high in 2010 (over 70%), gradually fell back to 64% in 2016, before regaining an uptrend in the year-to-date 2017. However, these disappointing results must be qualified: between 2010 and 2016, the number of classified hotels (chains + independent) increased by more than 6,300 rooms, an nearly 45% increase, buoyed by significant expansion of international channels. This strong growth in supply has led to a rebalancing of prices: whereas prices had remained relatively high and even increased in the early 2010s, their decline from 2016 (in a context where the customer base once again recorded double-digit annual growth) would appear to support an increase in occupancy, which is all the more remarkable as supply has increased. Demand has thus returned to a frankly bullish trend, with more and more arrivals.

Out of these chaotic years of 2010-2016 years, with neither major catastrophe nor real progress, Casablanca emerges in 2017 with a widely renewed, cheaper offer that attracts more and more people. Reflecting this trend is the increase in occupancy rates to the year-to-date of August 2017 (+2.7 pts). Prices continue to fall, which leads to a modest rise in the RevPAR YTD (+3.6%), which should nevertheless continue or even accelerate in the months to come.

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