Morocco: Update on new tourism products
The Moroccan National Tourist office has revealed additions to its tourism products including a new museum, airport terminal and high-speed rail link tests.
Yves St Laurent museum opens in Marrakech
The Yves St Laurent museum in Marrakech, celebrating the life of the internationally renowned fashion designer has recently opened.
St Laurent first visited Morocco in the sixties and bought a house there in 1966 with his then-partner Pierre Bergé.
As his fame grew, the pair bought Villa House, a large house connected to the Jardin Majorelle.
Saint Laurent died in 2008, and in the intervening years Bergé has dedicated himself to ensuring the designer’s legacy. In what was his last act before he died in September, he oversaw the construction of the museum.
Located on Rue Yves St Laurent, the museum is 4,000 square metres and has been architecturally designed to reflect the curves of the designer’s work.
75 year anniversary of Casablanca film
It’s been 75 years since the 1942 film Casablanca was shown for the first time.
Casablanca today is a multicultural city on Morocco’s Atlantic coast, with sights including the Hassan II Mosque, the Royal Palace and the largest shopping mall in Africa. It is possible to eat in Rick’s Café, or at least a replica (the café scenes were shot on set in California, where most of the movie was filmed) and it’s a good place to have a Negroni while listening to the pianist play As Time Goes By.
New high speed rail link
Tests on Morocco’s new high speed rail link have successfully taken place. The TGV line, running between Tangier and Casablanca is nearing completion, with the first public services scheduled to start running in 2018.
It will be the first high-speed TGV train on the continent and passengers will be able to travel at up to 200 mph between the two cities, halving current journey times and allowing travellers to explore the northern part of the kingdom with greater ease.
New Fez terminal
The new terminal at Fez-Saiss has increased annual capacity to 2.5 million passengers from 500,000 previously.
With visitor numbers to Fez increasing by an average 13% year-on-year from 2006-2016, the £37 million project includes a new 28,000 m2 terminal building with arrival and departure halls, duty-free shops, children’s playground and food court. Investment in systems and infrastructure has also been included to ensure full compliance with international standards for air traffic flow, aviation and airport security and quality of services.
There are new direct Air Arabia flights from Gatwick twice-weekly in addition to direct flights from Stansted with Ryanair.
The addition of three weekly internal connections from Marrakech reduces journey time between the two cities to one hour (rather than 7+ by road or train) making a twin-city break even more attractive.
Key visitor attractions include the newly reopened Al Qarawiyyin Library, believed to be the oldest in the world, as well as four recently restored fondouks in the city’s ancient medina which showcase not only ancient trades and artisan craftsmanship but also offer cafes and workshops.