Morocco & Dubai tourism is thriving thanks to open skies.

What are the benefit of open skies ?

The Morocco success story even amazed UNWTO

I like cutting out emotions and I prefer to use examples where open skies have worked and worked amazingly well.

Please join me on a trip to study Morroco and Dubai.

In 2012 we were invited to Morocco as tourism players and were amazed with the increase of international visitors in less than 7 years after signing an open skies policy with EU and 2019 was their peak. My Bro Ali Bajaber Kenyas Honorary Consul was a great host. JazakhAllah.

Morocco signed an Open Skies agreement with the European Union in 2005, representing the first aviation agreement of the EU with non-European country. As outlined in the agreement, EU and Moroccan carriers were allowed to operate to and FROM ANY POINT ( I emphasis From any point) in Morocco and the EU without price or capacity restrictions. The agreement also provides 5th freedom rights for both sides.

Guess what ? 22 new foreign companies commenced operations to and from Morocco. 19 European carriers including low-cost airline Ryanair and easyJet, as well as carriers from the region such as Buraq Air, Etihad and Turkish Airlines were attracted by the opportunities offered by the Moroccan market.

Low-cost airline Air Arabia even set up a new hub in Casablanca in 2009 featuring a fleet of Airbus 320 aircraft.

Did this kill Air Morocco? Never if anything it grew in leaps and bounds.
Morocco tourism arrivals jumped from less than 1.5M in 2005 to 12.5M in 2019 just before covid hit the world .

Did that translate into earnings ?

Absolutely yes from less than $2B to $9.5B. In Kenya we are still dancing a round 1 million serious international travelers with hardly earnings of $1.5B.

Please don’t be deceived by the 2.2M arrivals which includes TZ and Uganda and multiple crossing by small time border traders and truck drivers.

Dubai another successful destination decided to lift restrictions. We all admire the success of Dubai but few have ever drilled deep to know how Emirates was even born in 1985 when Pakistan Airways leased 2 aircrafts to them to help them start Emirates. Just before Covid hit the world , Dubai was handling 1900 flights per day with Emirates alone handling a high of 400 flights a day .

Did Emirates a young airline restrict others ? Far from it. Over 145 airlines fly to Dubai hence MICE business is kicking and doing really well. Without flight seats you remain a dwarf as a destination. More flights means cheaper airfares hence globally anyone can afford to travel to Dubai. Their airport is now able to handle 90Million travelers annually which 10 times the population of UAE let alone Dubai.

I hope you will learn something from my Morocco and Dubai study. Without seats flying into Kenya we will remain a dwarf as we deny ourselves that much needed forex.

I hope and pray that new regime will see far and stop being misled from thinking short-term and thinking small.

As always I choose to remain an optimist

Mohammed Hersi

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