200,000 Israelis expected to visit Morocco in 2022

Hundreds of thousands of Israeli tourists are expected to travel to Morocco this year now that the kingdom has officially reopened to visitors.

Morocco reopened its borders to tourists on February 7 following a two-month closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, the tourism sector in the country is quickly putting together an array of packages geared towards Israeli travelers.

Henri Abikzer, owner of Fast Voyages, a tour agency based in Rabat, said that he expects at least 200,000 Israelis to travel to Morocco by the end of the year.

“There are 1 million Moroccan Jews [or Jews of Moroccan extraction] in Israel,” said Abikzer, who is also the vice president of the Jewish community in Rabat. “They left some 30 to 40 years ago.”

“There are people who are nostalgic and wish to revisit the country,” he said. “There’s going to be a huge wave of visitors over the Passover holidays and this will be followed by a period of pilgrimages. There are many Jewish saints in southern, northern and eastern Morocco.

Rabat announced the resumption of ties with Israel in late 2020, joining the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan in reaching normalization pacts. Before normalization, Israelis wishing to visit Morocco were forced to travel there via another country, such as Turkey.

Several airlines are now offering direct flights between Tel Aviv and Rabat, Casablanca, or Marrakesh. Israeli airlines El Al and Israir, as well as Royal Air Maroc have nonstop flights that are approximately six hours long, making travel between the two countries fairly simple and convenient. Israel’s Arkia Airlines is also expected to launch direct flights in late March or April.

At its peak, the Moroccan Jewish community reached roughly 300,000 people in the mid-20th century; however, the vast majority left the North African country once the state of Israel was established in 1948. Today, only a few thousand Jews remain there.

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