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The Spirit of the Touristic Sector and Economic Growth in Morocco: An Analytical and Empirical Study

Brahim MANSOURI and Abdelmounaim ZEGZOUTI
brmansouri@yahoo.fr
2014 / 7 / 28

Introductory Remarks

Since the beginning of the third millennium, Morocco has been engaged in a battery of sectoral strategies encompassing a set of economic activities tied to the comparative advantages of the domestic economy. Apart from further details on various economic sectors concerning these strategies, the present paper deals with the research problem of the linkages between the touristic sector and overall economic growth.

As the title of the paper suggests, we have focused the attention upon the “Esprit” (spirit) of the sector. Nevertheless, the reader would question the reasons behind the use of the term “ESPRIT” (Spirit). Within this framework, we would like to highlight that the term refers to the aggregation of several factors considered as major determinants of the touristic sector growth in line with the existing theoretical and empirical literature in this research arena. It matters however to underline that the term ESPRIT (Spirit) as used hereafter is inspired from the initials of such factors as termed in French. Namely, such factors in French are l’“Emploi” (Employment), le “Seuil de saturation” (Saturation Threshold), le “PIB touristique” (Tourism GDP), les “Recettes touristiques” (Touristic Receipts), l’“Investissement dans le secteur” (Investment in the Sector) and le “Taux de pénétration” (Penetration Rate). In sum, the initials of the six components of the term ESPRIT (in French) in the touristic sector form, in definitive, what we call the spirit of the sector (esprit du secteur).

We consider the six components of the "ESPRIT" (spirit) as major explanatory variables of economic growth in addition to other factors selected in conformity with the well-known predictions of economic theory (effects of capital and labor according to Solow’s model). Moreover, based on lessons from the inductive method, we take into account a new hypothesis concerning the expected impact of climate changes on the Moroccan economy, measured here through the cereal yield per hectare (impact of drought on the agricultural sector and its repercussions on economic growth). More importantly, we argue that it matters to consider the components of our system “ESPRIT” (Spirit) as “Macro-Touristic Variables” while the remaining explanatory factors are termed “Standard Macroeconomic Variables”.

Relying on statistical and econometric analyses, our paper aspires to studying the magnitude of the impact of Macro-Touristic and Standard Macroeconomic Variables on economic growth in the short and long run.

The paper is organized around two major axes. The first axis is interested with the "ESPRIT" (Spirit) of the touristic sector with a statistical analysis attempt, whereas the second axis focuses on an econometric analysis of the overall real GDP reaction to the above-mentioned variables.

1. The Spirit of the Touristic Sector: A Statistical Analysis Attempt

Before conducting a summarized statistical analysis of the ESPRIT (Spirit) components for the touristic sector, it would be useful to define such various elements and to clarify their importance on the conceptual as well as empirical fronts.

1.1. Definition of the ESPRIT (Spirit) for the Touristic Sector

In line with the above-highlighted introductory remarks, the ESPRIT (Spirit) of the touristic sector is composed of six major variables : 1) Employment --;-- 2) The Saturation Threshold approximated as the ratio of the daily number of tourists to the number of classified beds--;-- ) The Touristic GDP--;-- 4) Touristic Receipts--;-- 5) Investment in the Sector --;-- 6) The Penetration Rate as estimated through the annual ratio of the number of tourists in Morocco to the aggregated number of tourists in competitive countries.

1.2. A Summarized Statistical Analysis

Our statistical investigations, as supported by graphic illustrations, reveal that touristic GDP, touristic receipts, public investment in the sector and employment have experienced a sustainable growth over the period 1978-2012 (the period 1999-2011 for the employment variable). However, in spite of the evolution of these key variables, the threshold and penetration rates experienced relatively sharp fluctuations over the same period, especially because of the volatility in the number of foreign tourists.

This may be due to geo-strategy-based international and national events such as the first and second Gulf wars, the May-16th-terrorist acts in Morocco in 2003 as well as the international financial and economic crisis starting in 2008, in addition to the events of the Arab Spring since December 2010. In spite of these fluctuations, it seems that the Moroccan touristic sector has been able to resist to various turbulences, therefore preserving its stability in spite of the challenges.

2. An Econometric Analysis of the ESPRIT (Spirit) for the Touristic Sector

Our econometric analysis relies on the specification and estimation of an econometric model where the dependent variable is the aggregate GDP in constant prices, while the explanatory variables are macro-touristic and standard macroeconomic variables as above-defined.

Our estimates and tests aim at clarifying and measuring, in the Moroccan case, the effects of a variety of factors on the aggregate real GDP and, therefore, on economic growth.

2.1. Empirical Results and Interpretations

To avoid the observed correlations between the variables forming the “ESPRIT” (Spirit) of the touristic sector, we have decided to integrate in our econometric model, each variable as considered individually, in addition to the so-called “standard macroeconomic variables”.

Our empirical results reveal that the touristic GDP in constant prices positively affects the aggregate real GDP with a very satisfactory statistical significance. The conducted estimates and tests indicate that 1 percent increase in real touristic GDP would lead to 0.44 and 1.01 percent increase in the aggregate GDP in constant prices, respectively in the short and long terms. In the same way, the impact of touristic receipts turns to be positive and statistically very significant, digitally suggesting that a 10 percent increase in this variable would induce an improvement in real GDP of about 0.40 and 1.40 percent respectively in the short and long run. The saturation threshold as measured here through the number of classified beds, also shows a positive and statistically significant impact on the aggregate real output, because, according to our estimates, a 1 percent increase in the number of classified beds would generate nearly 0.08 percent improvement in real GDP in the short term against 1 percent in the long run. Moreover, our estimates and tests reveal that public investment in the sector (in proportion to nominal GDP) positively affects economic growth in a magnitude of 0.06 and 0.35 percent, respectively in the short and long terms, for a 5 percent increase in the ratio to GDP of touristic public investment. Finally, our econometric model indicates that the number of foreign tourists, like the other “macro-touristic variables”, positively influences GDP in constant prices, since a 10 percent increase in this number would induce 0.20 percent improvement in the aggregate real GDP in the short run against about 1 percent in the long term. Concerning the employment in the sector, available statistical data only cover the period 1999-2011, letting estimates and tests less convincing according to the vue point of Gauss-Markov Theorem commonly termed “Ordinary Least Squares Method” (OLS), stipulating that the size of the temporal sample required in this framework, should not be less than 30 temporal observations (30 years in the case of annual data). Nevertheless, we have integrated in our econometric model, the population volume, as a proxy for the labor force, allowing therefore to lowering the error margin.

In conformity with economic theory predictions, the aggregate capital stock, as estimated through the gross fixed capital formation, and labor, approximated through the volume of population, positively and in a statistically very significant way affect economic growth in short as well as long run. Moreover, in line with our inductive expectations about the reality of the Moroccan economy, climate changes, as estimated through the cereal annual yield per hectare, exert a negative and dramatic effect on the overall real output, since the conducted estimates and tests reveal that a 10 percent decline in such a yield would lead to nearly 0.80 percent regression in real GDP, corresponding to 8 percent improvement in the overall GDP in constant prices for a doubling cereal yield.


2.2. Policy Implications

According to our statistical and econometric analyses, we can note that the variables linked to the "ESPRIT" (Spirit) of the touristic sector (Macro-Touristic Variables) permit to improve at various degrees, the aggregate real output, in the short as well as long terms.

In conformity with our methodologies of measurement, the “Macro-Touristic Variables” as tied to the external sector (touristic receipts, the touristic GDP itself largely determined by receipts, and the number of foreign tourists) constitute the more determinant variables in terms of economic growth in the point of view of their impact magnitude as well as the degree of the statistical significance of such impact.

In addition to the increasing impact of external macro-touristic variables, the Moroccan economy still bears the brunt of drought cycles, which affect economic growth over a long period. Empirical results reveal in definitive that such domestic and external variables, qualified as exogenous and hardly controllable, may endanger the future of the domestic economy. This requires in turn the design and implementation of alternative strategies to accelerate economic growth and, therefore, to achieve the hoped development and to improve the standards of life for the population.

Within this framework, decisionmakers are invited to rethink the concept of touristic competitiveness, since, in particular, international reports such as those published by the World Tourism Organization and the World Economic Forum, undoubtedly show how the touristic competitiveness index in Morocco is degrading in comparison with competitive countries with comparative touristic potentials.

It matters to underline in this research arena that the concept of touristic competitiveness requires a re-thought return to the Market Law and a concentration upon the supply and demand law. Efforts which are made until now to enhance and diversify the touristic supply in Morocco remain inadequate to impulse the sector, especially because of the weak internalization of the demand specificities. Psychological and socio-economic particularities of the potential tourist may rend extremely difficult, the satisfaction of its pressing demands. It would be suitable here to underline the importance of dissipation of the foreign tourist’s fears, notably through efforts to make in terms of security, stability, health and consolidation of the rule of law.

- prof.Dr. Brahim MANSOURI is Professor of economics at the Faculty of Juridical, Economic and Social Sciences of Cadi Ayyad University of Marrakech (Morocco).
- Abdelmounaim ZEGZOUTI is a doctoral student in economics (competitiveness of the touristic sector) at the Faculty of Juridical, Economic and Social Sciences, Cadi Ayyad University of Marrakech (Morocco).





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