In Morocco, the activity of a travel agent is governed by Law No. 31.96 regarding the travel agencies (downloadable here). It specifies the conditions for issuance and operation of travel agency licenses. The regulatory framework is supplemented by Decree No. 2-97-547 of 25 Jumada II 1418 (28 October 1997) which sets the rules for implementing the specified law.
The activity of a travel agency as stipulated in the article 1 of the specified law consists of:
- "The organization of trips, individual/group stays or sale of the products of the specified activity;
- The delivery of services to be provided during a travel or a holiday, including travel tickets booking and issuing, renting on behalf of the customers, the means of transport, booking rooms in accommodation establishments, supply of good hosting and / or restoration;
- The delivery of services related to tourism information, including the organization of tours, city, sites or monuments tours, guide services and tourist guides;
- Production and sale of tourist packages, the transactions related to the organization of conferences or similar events, as well as tourism-related sports, hunting, fishing, mountain and arts and culture events, since all these operations include some or all of the above benefits ... ".
Today, there are more than 941 travel agencies (about 1258 points of sale), representing virtually all actors in the travel distribution, more than half of them exist between Casablanca and Marrakech. They mainly operate in the ticketing and organization of religious holiday’s activities (Hajj and Umrah) and are receptive to a lesser extent to an international travel distribution.
Approval and Procedures
Any new opening of a travel agency in Morocco is dependent on obtaining an approval from the Ministry of Tourism awarded by decision of the Minister of Tourism on the advice of the Technical Advisory Committee on Travel Agents (CTCAV) and this takes place in two phases:
- The provisional license: issued for a period of one year;
- The final license: issued within one year after the granting of the provisional license.
Similarly, any change in the elements of the creation of a travel agency folder is subject to approval of the Ministry of Tourism. These are the following:
- The decision to open a branch;
- The decision to transfer the headquarters of the travel agency;
- The decision to change the name of the travel agency;
- The decision to change the director of the travel agency;
- The decision to close a travel agency.
The provisional license
Obtaining the provisional license is the first phase in the life cycle of a travel agency.
Any natural or legal person deciding to open a travel agency is required to file an "application file" to the regional or provincial delegation of tourism in the scope of which will be located the agency. The accreditation of the travel agency file consists of a form and a number of documents to provide which are available here.
After reviewing the case, the promoter is summoned to a meeting of the Technical Advisory Committee for Travel Agencies (CTCAV) at the Ministry of Tourism in Rabat. The purpose is to better study the creation record of the travel agency before scheduling a visit to the local of the latter.
After a favorable opinion, the sponsor is asked to deposit an amount of 200,000 dirhams to the Deposit and Management fund. He also needs to contact an insurance company to get insured against the financial consequences of professional liability.
The provisional approval procedure results in a decision signed by the Minister of Tourism. The provisional license is valid for one year from the date of signature of this decision. After this time, the travel agent must submit an application to obtain a definitive license.
The definitive license
According to Article 5 of the law 31-96 "definitive licenses are issued where the parties have justified to the administration that (...) they have created a minimum number of permanent jobs (editor's note: five jobs) and made at least 50% of their total foreign currency business." Thus, the travel agency is required to file a permanent license file to the delegation of tourism in the scope of which is the agency.
After reviewing the case, the travel agency is summoned by the CTCAV to present the annual report of the activity of the agency and its development prospects. The definitive license is endorsed by a decision signed by the Minister of Tourism.
Headquarters transfer of a travel agency
According to Article 7 of the 31-96 regarding the travel agencies status, any change in the address of a travel agency should be reported to the tourism administration. Therefore, and in case of will of change of the headquarters of a travel agency, the director shall file an application to the tourism delegation in the scope of which will be located the agency. The Ministry of Tourism, through its delegations, then proceeds to visit the new location before issuing the decision of transferring the agency’s headquarters signed by the Minister of Tourism.
The opening of a branch of a travel agency
The process of establishing a branch is triggered by the deposit of an application file within the delegation of tourism in the scope of which is located the mother agency.
After reviewing the case, the administration conducts a tour of the local branch. The last phase of the procedure is the signature of a decision to open a branch by the Minister of Tourism
Changing the director of a travel agency
The approval granted to a travel agency is largely based on the director’s resume. Thus, any change of the director of a travel agency is submitted to the Board for approval. To do so, the travel agency is required to file a request for change of director to the delegation in the scope of which is located the agency.
The letter of approval of the new director is signed by the Director of Regulation, Development and Quality after studying the case.
Changing the name of a travel agency
The procedure for changing the name of a travel agency is triggered by the filing of a request to the delegation of tourism in the scope of which is situated the agency, it must contain the following:
- A certified copy of the Minutes of the General Meeting in which it has been decided to change the name of the travel agency;
- A certified copy of the negative certificate bearing the new name;
- A certificate of registration in the commercial register with the new name.
A name change decision is then signed by the Minister of Tourism
The transfer of shares of a travel agency
The license of a travel agency is not transferable. Therefore, the sale of all shares does not permit the new owner to use the agency. The latter is required in this case to file a new application for obtaining a license under the same conditions of obtaining a provisional license mentioned above.
Closing a travel agency
We distinguish between two types of closures:
- The voluntary closing (in case of activity stopping);
- Administrative closure or withdrawal of the license (in case of finding).
In both cases, the closure of a travel agency is endorsed by the drafting and signing of a closure decision.
In case the closure is voluntary, an activity termination request must be sent to the Delegation in the scope of which is located the agency which conducts a survey regarding the travel agency in question to determine the reasons for retirement. The decision of cessation of activity is signed by Tourism Minister after consulting the CTCAV.
Innovations and contributions of the target draft law:
Travel distribution is a sector plagued by multiple mutations. Indeed, the increasing number of tourists, the changing consumer habits, the emergence of new actors, the development of e-tourism and the use of increasingly greater new communication technologies are all new trends that render obsolete traditional distribution formats and impose new rules.
Recognizing the criticality of these issues, tourism development strategy "Vision 2020" has planned a major project dedicated to regulatory reform of Law No. 31-96 on the status of travel agencies to give life to a distribution system:
- INCLUSIVE :The distribution system should ensure the participation of all stakeholders of the tourism distribution, large and small.
- FLUENT : It must allow the development of a simple, effective and natural communication.
- FLEXIBLE : It will have to adapt to new consumer trends, new markets and new actors.
- SECURED : It should help provide a quality experience to the tourist, providing him full confidence in the purchased product.
Thus, the major reform issues identified in consultation with the profession are as follows:
- Establishment of a graduation system of travel agents depending on the activity and the committed liability;
- Inclusion measures for online sales and distance sales;
- Access conditions improvement to the travel agent profession;
- Management improvement of the travel agent business;
- Alignment with the legislative provisions that impact the business of travel agent
Grading of the licensing system:
The grading of the licensing system is done on two levels according to the degree of risk, responsibility and the nature of services and operations provided by the travel agent. The purpose is to allow the inclusive regulatory framework to enable all travel operators to identify with it and then join it.
License Type A: It evolves around the entities that are responsible of travel producing and distributing (tour operators). The exclusivity of the profession is maintained at this level.
Licence Type B: it evolves around the travel distributing entities that are exercising, without obligation of exclusivity, in the tourist services sales.
Measures for online and distance selling :
Integration of online distribution and distance selling operations that can be provided by travel agents with the ability to operate with direct debit and / or via sales point.
Access conditions improvement to the profession of travel agent :
Inserting measures for the integration of new entities of jurisdiction (developers, aggregators, etc.) essential for the future of the profession with the new realities and breaks, and especially those induced by the explosion of the digital economy (e-commerce, digital marketing, self-services.etc.).
Management conditions improvement of the activity of travel agent :
The ambition is to allow travel agents to be operational and to develop a profitable business when awarding the license including the certification application from IATA.
Similarly, it is a question of facilitating access to the profession for travel agents wishing to specialize in domestic tourism. This will strengthen the competitiveness and the positioning of local actors able to capture more value.
Alignment with laws that impact the business of travel agent :
Alignment with the provisions of applicable laws: the law that is enacting measures for consumer protection, the law of e-commerce, etc. This alignment will be consistent with the overall regulatory framework within which is defined the activity of the travel agent.