Rabat– Morocco is keen to open up more to India, one of the emerging economies, and hopes to attract a large number of Indian tourists to the kingdom, the head of Morocco’s tourism department has said.

The North African country is banking on a strong presence in the Indian tourism market in the coming years, Abderrafie Zouiten, Director General of the Moroccan National Tourist Office (MNTO) said.

In an interview to the Arab Maghreb News Agency (MAP), at the end of a working visit to New Delhi, Zouiten said that India is poised to have a large middle class of nearly 300 million which can be tapped by the Moroccan tourism sector.

During his India visit, the ONMT obtained Indian permission to open a regional office in New Delhi in early 2018. Zouiten said the development reflects the “fruitful” cooperation between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and the Embassy of Morocco in India.

He said the opening of the second regional office in Asia, after Beijing, reflects the distinguished relations between Morocco and India.

He said that Morocco-Indian ties have been strengthened, especially after the visit of King Mohammed VI to New Delhi in October 2015 for the India-Africa Forum Summit. He noted that the Kingdom, through the new office in India, could position itself favourably in the tourism market.

Zouiten described as fruitful his meetings with Indian Tourism Minister K.J. Alphons, and officials and representatives of the tourism sector and air transport, saying the two sides discussed ways to strengthen exchange, expertise and cooperation in the field of tourism.

The focus at the meetings was also on the diverse and attractive tourism potential of Morocco as a stable and secure destination for tourists. The Moroccan side also highlighted the rich natural heritage and historical
monuments of the kingdom.

Zouiten said they would soon organize a visit to Morocco for representatives of tourist organisations in New Delhi. Cooperation and partnership agreements will be signed at the next joint working meetings between tourism stakeholders from both countries, he said.

The promotion of cultural tourism was also taken up by Zouiten who recalled that India was the guest of honour at the Marrakech International Film Festival in 2012, that commemorated the 100th anniversary of Bollywood. Also, New Delhi had been designated guest of honour at the 22nd edition of the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music in 2016.

He stressed that Morocco is keen to enhance its cooperation with India in the tourism sector, in harmony with its new orientation towards emerging Asian destinations outside the traditional tourist markets. (IANS)