Israeli tourists to flood Morocco in wake of peace deal

Airline officials say direct flights should start in the spring with 150,000 Israeli tourists coming annually once the pandemic ends.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

The new peace treaty with Morocco is expected to turn the north African nation into a tourism magnet for Israelis, Channel 12 reported Sunday.

The agreement to establish relations between Israel and Morocco is expected to lead to the opening of the country’s borders to Israelis without the need for a visa, and airlines are preparing to fly 150,000 Israelis a year.

While Israelis have already been able to visit Morocco in groups, with some 50,000 visiting annually, the new agreement is expected to bring with it an influx of Israeli tourists who will finally be able to travel to the country independently and on direct flights.

However, with Morocco currently defined as a “red country” with a high coronavirus infection rate, the tourism industry and airlines are already preparing for the first flights that are expected to depart beginning in March or April, travel industry sources said.

Israel’s three airlines, El Al, Arkia and Israir are preparing to operate regular flights ahead of the Passover holiday, in the hope that Israelis of Moroccan descent will be able to celebrate the traditional Mimouna feast marking the end of Passover in the country of their roots.

“We anticipate that at the beginning there will be at least one daily flight, if not more than that,” said Gil Stav, Israir’s VP of marketing. “It is a very, very popular destination. Not only for a roots trip – it is also a tourist destination.”

“Our assessment is that around March-April it will already be possible to fly directly to Morocco. Flight prices are expected to range from $450-550 per flight,” Stav said.

Anat Fogel, who works as a tour guide in Morocco for the Natur travel agency, said Israeli tourists can expect a great experience traveling to the popular Moroccan destination of Marrakech.

“Marrakech is cosmopolitan, it has the best nightclubs in the world – you can come, really put a backpack on your shoulders, travel at prices for every pocket and you can also feel like a king and sleep in a riad [traditional Moroccan villa].”

Some one million Israelis, roughly one in every nine citizens, is of Moroccan Jewish descent. The vast majority of Morocco’s once 250,000 strong Jewish community moved to Israel beginning in the 1950s and the community today has only about 3,000 members.