AHIC: Morocco tipped as next Spain

Morocco came out on top when industry leaders participating at the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference were asked to weigh up which country, out of Morocco and Tunisia, had the potential to be the next Spain in terms of tourism development and revenue.
“Morocco has the potential to be the future Spain in view of its proximity to Spain, the variety of the tourism offer and the organised development plan for tourism in the country,” said Hassan Ahdab, Vice President and Regional Director of Operations, Africa & Indian Ocean, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc.
The North African country received some 6.5 million tourists in 2006, up 700,000 on the previous year. This figure looks set to continue to grow as international tourism investors continue to develop large-scale tourist resorts in Morocco.
Most recently, Gulf Finance House launched its Royal Resort Cap Malabata, the first phase of the US$ 1.4 billion Gateway to Morocco project.
A unique mixed-use tourism, commercial and residential destination in the city of Tangiers, the $600 million Royal Resort Cap Malabata development is one of the two distinctive but complementary elements of the US $1.4 billion Gateway to Morocco project, the second element being Royal Ranches in Marrakech.
Royal Resort Cap Malabata in the city of Tangiers, will cover a total area of 127 hectares. It will feature cafes, galleries, exclusive shopping areas, beach house, nine-hole golf course, equestrian club and convention centre, explained Keith Parker Senior Executive Director, Head of Real Estate Development, Gulf Finance House .
Meanwhile, Dubai International Properties (DIP) is investing US $12 billion in developments in Morocco. DIP, the international real estate investment arm of Dubai Holding, is to develop a series of projects in Morocco, including Dubai Towers - Casablanca and Marina de Casablanca.
Dubai Towers - Casablanca will cover an area of 240,000m? and will include two buildings - a hotel and an office tower. In addition, the development, estimated to cost US $600 million, will include a shopping mall, office space, residential apartments and entertainment facilities.
Marina de Casablanca, worth US $500 million, will feature offices, retail and entertainment facilities, marina hotels, residential apartments, promenade and open landscape spaces, over a built-up area of 190,000m?.
The panel discussion, moderated by Philippe Doiselet, General Manager, Horwath HTL France, also looked at the tourism potentials of Tunisia.
Tunisia attracted 6.4 million tourists in 2005 and achieved tourism revenue of close to US $2 billion in 2006.
EMAAR is developing the US $1.88 billion Marina Al Qussor project on Tunisia’s eastern coastline. The 442 hectare Marina development will offer a mix of living options and tourist attractions, including six hotels ranging from luxury boutique to four-star located on the beach and marina, with a large Marina Village at its centre.
The panel discussion ’ Morocco & Tunisia… Who will be the next Spain?’ also featured Jordi Ferrer, Managing Partner, Tourism & Leisure Advisory Services and Jean Luc Motot, COO, Accor Middle East, Africa and Indian Ocean.