Transavia, a Dutch low-cost airline and a wholly owned subsidiary of KLM, says there is some overcapacity in some European travel and leisure markets, but notes “North Africa is not struggling right now for tourism” and that Turkish demand has made “a small improvement”. According to Oliver Newton of the Dutch company, the trend in the couple of years has been a bit of over-capacity towards Spain and Portugal as a lot of people have moved to these destinations from Turkey. Mr. Newton also added that “North Africa is actually doing really well”, especially the Morocco market “is growing each year” and “Tunisia will eventually come back as well”.
While political turmoil and jihadist attacks have battered the sector in Tunisia and Egypt, Morocco registered 10 million visitors in 2016 and about 11 million visitors, according to the Moroccan Tourism Observatory. In any case, 2017 was a record year for the industry in one of Africa’s leading tourism destination – Marrakech. For the first time in history, the historical city crossed the threshold of 2 million tourists welcomed in a year, recording over 6 million overnight stays. According to the figures of the Regional Tourism Center of Marrakech, the city recorded a growth of 20 percent of arrivals in 2017, whereby the strongest growth was recorded by Germany with 56 percent, followed by Spain with 38 percent, Italy with a 28 percent increase, and France with 19 percent.
When it comes to the new destinations, the Air-France KLM Group to which Transavia belongs, sees potential in the improving Israeli market, which prompted it to add a new service to Eilat during the upcoming winter season. “We’re constantly looking for new destinations, especially in the winter, that have a good climate, that have year-round sun,” says Newton. “Eilat was a really good opportunity for us as an alternative to the Canary Islands, Egypt or Dubai.” The Eilat flight will be a new addition to Beirut as these two market are helping offset the impact of lower demand to Turkey due to concerns over political instability in recent years. “[Demand has] reduced quite significantly since about five years ago,” he states. “There was a small improvement since last year but it’s not quite reached the levels of five years ago.”