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Regulatory component

Tourism accomodation :

Tourism accommodation is one of the main elements in the tourism value chain. To this end, particular importance is given by the Ministry of Tourism in this sector which is a determining factor in choosing a touristic destination. Considerable efforts have helped increasing the number of tourism accommodation establishments and bed capacity which increased from 97,000 beds in 2001 to more than 210,000 beds In 2014

Also, and in order to ensure a quality of tourism services that meet the expectations and aspirations of customers and to be able to distinguish between different standings of tourism accommodation establishments, a tourism establishments classification system was established in Morocco in 2002.

The specified rating system of tourism establishments, established by the law 61-00 (Dahir No. 1-02-176 of 13 June 2002) on the status of tourism establishments as amended and supplemented by Law 01-07 (Dahir No. 1 -08 to 60 of 23 May 2008 within the law 01-07 regarding the RIPT) is compulsory for tourism accommodation. It has a national scope with regional implementation since 2002.

Today, the Ministry of Tourism has prepared a new legal framework, which was put in place by the publication in the Official bulletin in October 2015 Law No. 80-14 (downloadable here) regarding tourism facilities and other forms of tourism accommodation. It will not apply until the publication of its implementing legislation.

This law is part of the strategic vision of the tourism sector "Vision 2020", and aims to achieve the following key objectives:

  • Improving the competitiveness and quality of services in tourism establishments;
  • The alignment of national tourism facilities with international standards by incorporating best practices and adapting them to scalable quality requirements of tourists, security, health and sustainable development;
  • Improving the visibility of the national supply by adapting the hotel classification system to the evolution and diversification of the tourism accommodation supply.

To achieve the above objectives, the main changes introduced by this law are organized around 2 main pillars:

  1. 1. The classification scope: covers the different types of tourism accommodation that can exercise within Morocco;
  2. 2. The authorization and classification process: means all the administrative steps taken by the promoters to obtain a hotel classification in order to open their establishments.

The classification scope :

The classification scope was redesigned in order to increase comprehension of the Moroccan tourism offer at an international level, while ensuring a comprehensive representation of the current concepts (Ex. Riad Kasbah.) And concepts that could grow in the future (home stays, alternate accommodations).

For reasons of simplification, the classification scope now covers:

  • The tourism accommodation establishments: hotel, club hotel, residence, guest house, Riad, Kasbah, house, pension, camping.
  • Other forms of tourism accommodation: Bivouac, Homestay, alternative accommodation.

The authorization and classification process:

In order to simplify administrative procedures for the classification definition and also in order to make them more efficient, the following major innovations have been introduced:

  • The fusion of the Provisional Technical classification with the procedure of permission granting: This procedure will reduce the processing time and the procurement of two administrative decisions while ensuring compliance with criteria including urban planning, construction, security, dimensional and functional hotel standards. It will allow to enact a specific building regulations for tourism accommodation establishments;
  • Issues related to health and safety will now be separated from the hotel classification process and will be handled as prerequisites. This separation will ensure distinction and responsibility of each intervener in the monitoring process;
  • The establishment of an operating license before the opening of any tourism accomodation establishment, conditioned by the issuance of a provisional classification and also the compliance with aspects relating to health and safety.
  • The introduction of a new approach regarding the operating classification to better understand the quality of service. In this regard, the operation of classification exercise will take place in two phases:

The first is carried out by a specialized entity of sworn auditors that are taking as a reference the new classification standards developed with the assistance of the World Tourism Organization (OMT) and incorporating in addition to dimensional criteria, other criteria for quality of hotel services evaluation. Such auditors will be the only authorized by the Ministry of Tourism to classify and control tourism establishments.

The second phase, called the audit mystery, is complementary to the control carried out by the entity of specialized auditors. The audit will be conducted by secret mystery shoppers on behalf of the Ministry of Tourism. This audit will assess the quality of service as perceived by the customer; it constitutes a new element added to the classification system.

Furthermore, and in addition to the innovations added to the classification system, the tourism accommodation establishments and other forms of accommodation will have to declare the state of arrivals and overnight stays to their structures through a new process, known as e-filing, to simplify and modernize the statistical data collection system and ensure better monitoring of the development sector.

Also, Law No. 80-14 determine the conditions necessary for a catering establishment to be classified as "tourism restaurant". The implementing legislation will set minimum standards to be applied either dimensional, functional, hygiene, service production and operation.

Finally, and in order to ensure the compliance of the entire national entity to the new classification standards, the law provides for a transitional period.

Thus, the existing tourism establishments listed on the date of publication of the law, have a period of 24 months from the date of publication of regulations to comply.

Travel distribution :

Travel distribution is experiencing deep changes. The changes in the number of tourists, their consumption and purchases habits significantly impact the sector. A metamorphosis that oblige the actors in the sector to face significant challenges in maintaining and conquering markets shares and in anticipating the changes in the competitive behavior of tourists, and also processing the management methods.

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 travel or 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 tourist information, including the organization of tours, city, sites or monuments tours, guide service 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 ... " as precited above.

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 holidays activities (Hajj and Umrah) and are receptive to a lesser extent to an international travel distribution.

Approval and procedures

Procedure for accreditation of travel agencies :

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 first phase is the provisional license: issued for a period of one year;
  • The second phase is the final license: issued within one year after the granting of the provisional license.

Similarly, any change in the constituent 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 licence

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 licence

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 resumee. 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 shared 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.

Tourism transportation

Both a mean of access and liaison between destinations, and also facilitating the movement of tourists within the country, tourist road transport has become over time an inseparable component of the tourism offer of the Moroccan destination and the package proposed by the various actors in the tourism value chain.

The activity of the Tourism Transportation is governed by a set of specifications (downloadable here) that takes as its legal basis the following texts:

  • Dahir No. 1.63.260 of 24 Jumada II 1383 (12 November 1963) relating to transport by motor vehicles in road;
  • Law 52.05 about the traffic laws and the texts adopted for its implementation;
  • Decree No. 2-63-363 of 17 Rajab 1383 (December 4, 1963) relating to the coordination of rail and road transport in particular the fourth paragraph of Article One;
  • Decree No. 2-63-364 of 17 Rajab 1383 (December 4, 1963) on the approval of utility contractors transport by motor vehicle and the authorization of vehicles used for such transport;
  • Order of the Minister of Public Works and Communications No. 50-73 of 20 hija 1392 (25 January 1973) laying down the conditions for development of vehicles used for tourism occasional transport as amended and supplemented.

The specifications relating to the exercise of the road tourism transportation activity defines (i) the conditions of access, (ii) the exercise conditions, and (iii) the conditions for the monitoring and control of activity.

  • (i) The conditions of access to the exercise of the activity: The articles contained in this chapter of the specification document process and determine the validity of approvals and the rights to their holders, as well as the characterization of vehicles and minimum standards (local, minimal Park) to be respected by the investor, addition to the provisions which it must comply insurance-wise.
  • (ii) The conditions for exercise of the activity: To practice, the investor must ensure the maintenance of its vehicles and keep them in perfect condition, he is required to declare his entire staff to the CNSS / AMO. Also, the investor must submit an annual activity report with the offered services and his assessment of the conditions of implementation of these benefits.
  • (iii) Controls and sanctions: To ensure the proper implementation of the specifications document, it devoted an important chapter conformity checks and penalties for non-compliance with its provisions.

Tourism guide

The tourism guide plays a key role in the development and promotion of natural and cultural heritage of Morocco. It plays the role of a cultural ambassador of the destination for the tourists. As for them, they have more and more specific and sophisticated demands and they often compare the services provided by Moroccan guides with the other country’s guides benefits from where they live or have visited. Hence the need for Morocco to sustain the dynamic tourism, rely on guides delivering competitive services to satisfy even tourists and meet their requirements in terms of service quality.

The tourism guide profession is governed by Law No. 05-12 (Downloadable here) regulating the tourism guide profession. The said law establishes the conditions of access and exercise of the profession needed to professionalize the profession and ensure quality standards of the offered services.

The number of guides operating in Morocco is 2759 approved guides assigned to different regions of the Kingdom. The said law distinguishes between two types of guides

  • Cities and tour guide;
  • Natural areas guide

Cities and tour guide: the main business of the guide is to provide all kind of information to tourists: geographical, historical, architectural, cultural, social, economic or other, and assist and support them on foot or on board of appropriate transport vehicles, on public roads and tourist sites within the monuments, museums, places of cultural or artistic interest, tourist establishments and public places.

Natural areas guide

The guide of natural areas activity is to accompany and assist tourists during excursions and hikes in natural sites, mountains and deserts, by foot, or by riding animals of burden or using appropriate transport vehicles on circuits with tracks, trails or roads passable without the use of technical climbing, mountaineering or skiing and to provide information on visited areas and sites, as well in natural, historical, geographical, economic and social cultural.