Re-Inventing City Tourism

Marrakech stands out as the most recent UNWTO “capital” of city tourism

The city of Marrakech is again spearheading efforts to rebuild Moroccan tourism, and arrives at ITB Berlin after recently hosting the UNWTO’s 4th Global Summit on City Tourism.

In an opening communique at the Marrakech event, Esencan TERZIBASOGLU, Director Destination Management and Quality UNWTO stated, “ The nature of cities is heavily impacted by the paradigm changes in the production and consumption patterns and the mobility of capital, people and goods.

In recent decades, “global” and “local” are connected in such a way that cities have not only become a dynamic vector for development and growth but also as the locus for change. At the beginning of the 19th century, only 2% of the world’s population was urban. By the beginning of the 21st century, a historic milestone was reached when the population living in cities and towns exceeded 50 percent of the global population, thus making urban centres the dominant habitat of humankind.

It is estimated that by 2050, 70 per cent of the world’s population will be living in cities and by 2025 cities will contribute over 30 trillion US Dollars to the world economy (UNHABITAT). Tourism currently constitutes a central component in the economy, social life and the geography of many cities in the world. The ITB World Travel Trend Report indicates that the volume of city breaks increased by 47% worldwide in the period 2009-13 (IPK International).”


Marrakech itself is ranked among the top 10 global tourist destinations by a number of international organisations. In 2015, the city was named number one in the world by “Travellers’ Choice”.

The constant growth of the tourism sector in Marrakech in recent years is due to the development of the activity related to business tourism, congresses and events. With three convention centres, Marrakesh confirms its leadership in the national and international congress tourism and event.

Practical aspects: Since February 2016, the private firm Darlodo has opened what it terms “Hygienic Boutiques” in Marrakech… in other words, clean public restrooms. In a statement, the organisation’ s management says, “At Darlodo, we know that millions of people have had poor experiences with public restrooms, bathrooms and toilets, and because of that, public restrooms have a poor reputation amongst the general public. Darlodo intends to change that for the better, one city at a time.”

  • City tourism grew by 58% between 2010 -2014 (ECM). This represents 20% of international tourism.
  • By 2050, two-thirds of the world’s population will live in cities and 600 cities will contribute to 65 % of GDP.
  • “Sharing economy” is the new challenge and captures the fastest growing customer segment.



Morroco_Marrakech_Rooftop_Terrace.pngThere’s so much to do in Morocco, it’s hard to think of the “top three” reasons to go. So we asked Khalid Mimi, Director – France – of the Moroccan National Tourism Office, what he felt were the key selling points of his country…


Firstly, in geographic terms, as France and Morocco are very close and a number of regions in France have direct flights to different Moroccan destinations. But more important than that is the cultural proximity with France. Over generations, a great complicity has developed with France, in linguistic terms, but also when it comes to gastronomy and general culture. Indeed, Morocco is the number one non-European destination for French tourists.


Tourists are not clients, they are friends. One of the first reflexes of French people when they travel is to head for Morocco. In this sense, many tourists seek lodgings outside of usual “hotel” infrastructure, to live in Moroccan style with the Moroccans. Tourists of all categories can find what they want in this respect, from ultra luxurious lodgings to simple Riads and guesthouses.


Morocco is very safe, and its people are very tolerant and open. The current geopolitical context has meant that the country has been somewhat stigmatised and amalgamated through confusion. But events like the Timitar Berber festival of tolerance is one example of how Morocco is “making a statement” to the contrary. Even more important was strong message given in the recent speech by King Mohammed VI, where he underlined that “Those who engage in terrorism, in the name of Islam, are not Muslims