"Morocco is already a great golf destination"
In mid-October, from 14 to 17, the International Golf Travel Market (IGTM) will be held in Marrakech.This sector’s premier fair is attended by tour operators from all over the world, and brings together the most select international golf and tourism options.
This will be the first time the fair has been held in Morocco and, without a doubt, it will provide a great boost to a growing destination that is becoming increasingly important.
There are already dozens of golf courses in the northern African country and this number will, in a very short time, double. Almost all are located in the key tourist areas.
In Marrakech they are situated on the area’s vast plateau surrounded by the Atlas mountains’s eternal snow. In Tangier and in the north they meander through cypress hills. In Rabat they are surrounded by ancient oak forests. In Agadir they co-exist with the dunes. And in Meknes they reach almost to the very heart of the imperial city.
Top designers including Robert T. Jones, Cabell B. Robinson, Jack Nicklaus and Montgomerie have created veritable masterpieces in exceptional settings.
For Mohamed Sofi, director of the Moroccan National Tourism Office for Spain, this year's IGTM in Morocco will mean a great boost for the country as a golf destination. “Afterwards, bearing in mind the many golf tournaments that have been organised there, such as the Hassan II Trophy, representing solidarity between two continents, which we organised with the Real Madrid Foundation, and many others, I think the IGTM in Marrakech is going to represent a major milestone.
"Morocco is in a position to show the world that it has first-class golf courses in different areas of the country, designed by leading architects and stars with great prestige and experience in the golf world.
"This sport began in Morocco more than one hundred years ago, in Tangier, and today there are tens of thousands of golfers in our country. We have also become a great golf tourist destination for enthusiasts from all over the world. It is a very attractive destination because the courses are excellent and are located in areas of Morocco that can also offer a different culture and a contrast of landscapes that makes them unique.
"Perhaps it is true that Moroccan courses might resemble others in any country, but what differentiates our destiny from others is the environment, the cultural surroundings, the alternative activities that can be enjoyed... the Moroccan" ‘touch, the hospitality, the exquisite care, attention and service... All of this is an added asset, in addition to the climate, the variety of landscapes and, of course, the great value for money.
“In addition, visiting as a family is another great attraction. Those who don’t play golf can take advantage to visit our cities’ souks and buy crafts... In any corner of Morocco you can feel at home.”
-How many golf courses are there in Morocco?
More than 40. We have doubled the number of courses in a very short time, and in a few years we will duplicate them again. They are concentrated mainly in Marrakech, Agadir, Meknes, Casablanca and Tanger and on the Atlantic Coast. Many of them are part of luxury resorts operated by large international chains. The variety is huge. New courses will be developed in Saidia on the Mediterranean coast, in Larache near Tetouan, on the Atlantic coast all the way to Agadir, and also in the south of the country.
"Now that Morocco has become a recognised and well-established golf destination that attracts golfers from all over the world, especially from Europe, there is great interest by national and international investors to develop new projects that can satisfy European demand.
"We have a very important market next door, which is Spain, and we want to pay close attention to this, especially now that we have great flight links between different parts of the (Iberian) peninsula and Marrakech, as well as other areas of the country. An hour and a half by plane and you can be playing in a very different setting. We are so close yet so far culturally!
-Why has Morocco set its sights on golf, making it one of its main tourist attractions?
Our country has great tourist amenities and attractions. I would say we have it all: landscapes, monumental cities, a different culture, 3,500 kilometres of coastline, climate... But we wanted to diversify our offer and golf is, certainly, one of the best options to do this. That is why we have made such a strong commitment to hosting the IGTM in Marrakech, where it is being held for the first time in our country.