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Hospitality Investment Leaders meet at Morocco Tourism Investment Day at Expo Dubai 2020

On Monday, 11 October, the Moroccan Agency for Tourism Development (SMIT) hosted the Morocco Tourism Investment Day as part of Morocco: Global Investment Hub Week, which took place at the Morocco Pavilion at Expo Dubai 2020, in partnership with Bench, the organiser of the Africa Hotel Investment Forum (AHIF), which is the premier hotel investment conference in Africa.

Imad Barrakad, CEO of the Moroccan Agency for Tourism Development (SMIT) welcomed over 50 senior hospitality investment leaders to the exclusive, invitation-only meeting saying “Morocco is full of tremendous opportunities at the moment especially in destinations in the South and Agadir and now is the perfect time to invest”.

Hamid Bentahar, Chairman of the National Confederation of Tourism was interviewed by Laura Buckwell, EMCEE and former news anchor and explained how the Government is relaunching tourism and investment in this period of post-COVID and the opportunities that have opened up within Morocco for investors and the destinations. “In Morocco, we have a long history of Public and Private collaboration. […] Morocco is now the first destination in Africa and in the Top 30 destinations in the world and we have the ambition to be in the top 20 in the coming years” he commented.

Jochem-Jan Sleiffer, President Middle East, Africa & Turkey for Hilton was joined by Marloes Knippenberg, CEO of Kerten Hospitality to discuss the operators perspective and their outlook for the future and specifically for Africa and Morocco. “Morocco is a key market for us. We are currently operating 3 hotels. We have another 5 in the pipeline and are looking at a number of other projects. The good thing about Morocco in the view of the future is that it is a market where we can position the different brands that we have”, said Sleiffer.

Philip Wooller, Director MEA at STR presented a performance and pipeline update, explaining “The most important number about Morocco concern the last 2 or 3 months … and we see that there is significant progress.”.

The final session of the day highlighted the investor sentiment in the region. Khalid Anib, Chief Executive Officer, Abu Dhabi National Hotels, Fardan Al Fardan, SEO, Embassy Capital and Lourie Kruger, Director Transactions, Westmont Hospitality Group joined a panel led by Jonathan Worsley, Chairman and CEO of Bench to discuss the types of hospitality assets are of interest to private investors looking at Morocco and what government can do to support international investment into the sector. Kruger commented “We are in Marrakech and Casa at the moment. The short answer is that we need more ! It’s a top target country for us. […] we look primarily in conversion opportunities” and Al Fardan explained, “We’ve been looking at Morocco for a while right now. Morocco to us is a fundamentally very strong tourism market. And the proximity between Europe and the Middle East is also attractive”.