Moroccan tourism down amid rise of terrorism threat

Rabat: After more than a decade of steady growth, tourism in Morocco is experiencing a significant drop amid the rise of terrorist threat. While the country's tourism industry got a wake-up call last year following a series of terrorist attacks in the region, the latest data on arrivals and bookings in the first half of 2016 show a clearer dip with the hike in number of terror attacks in different parts of the world, especially Europe, Xinhua news agency reported. According to tourism officials statistics released on Monday, only 4.2 million people arrived in Morocco in the first half of 2016, registering a 2.6 per cent drop compared to the same period last year. The number of French tourists, Morocco's largest source of tourism, dipped by seven per cent in the first six months of 2016. The North African nation also saw declines in visitors from Britain by eight per cent, Italy and Germany by five per cent respectively. While the number of tourists dropped, tourism revenues surprisingly rose by 3.4 per cent compared to the same period last year, generating $2.7 billion. However, what is clear is that the drop in tourist arrival was parallel with the resurgence of violence in the region since the emergence of the Islamic State (IS) militant group in 2014 and terror attacks worldwide. "Since mid-2014 with the emergence of the IS, we have seen the dwindling of the number of tourists," Lahcen Haddad, the tourism minister, said before Paris attack in November last year.