Is tourism harming Morocco’s property market?


Morocco's property market may actually be being harmed by its strong tourism industry, according to new figures.

Data from the Bank Al-Maghrib shows that lending grew at a 10-year low pace in November last year as investors put money into hotel investments which soured during the global financial crisis.

Morocco's tourism industry has been attempting to emulate that of Dubai, explains Bloomberg , when it was hit by the crash, leaving developers , banks and buyers with saddled with debt.

"Moroccan banks are working out their overexposure to commercial real estate, mainly tourism-related, which will limit the amount of their new engagements in 2013," Gabriel Matar, head of Middle East and North Africa hotels at Jones Lang LaSalle, told the publication. "The Moroccan market isn't mature enough to recover all these projects, which are too big to be completed by just Moroccan players."

"Banks are obviously overexposed to the real estate market and the priority is to complete the projects they're already involved in and slow financing to sensitive projects such as tourism or high grade residential," added Zineb Masrour, a Casablanca-based CBRE manager. "These projects were mainly targeting foreigners, who were strongly investing a few years ago but they're not here anymore."

As a result, lending is down, leaving property transactions to drop by 12 per cent in the third quarter of 2012 compared to 2011, according to government figures. Residential sales alone fell by 9.7 per cent in terms of volume, while prices decreased by 0.4 per cent.

And yet tourism is going strong: visitors hit 9.3 million in 2011, approaching Morocco's target of 10 million.

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