Morocco: The Gateway to Africa

Perched at the top of the African mainland, Morocco offers a vibrant mix of cultures and experiences that make it a land of contrasts. The first image that one may conjure up when asked to think of Morocco would be one of sun-baked dusty houses set against a desert backdrop. The vision may even feature Bedouin nomads leading camels, or a busy market bazaar with tourists and merchants bartering good-naturedly.

However, this is not all that Morocco has to offer. There are mountain ranges that offer fantastic skiing opportunities and coastlines with beaches that rival anything Europe has to offer. The desert is still there of course, along with its Bedouin nomads, offering the holidaymaker a chance to set out on the trek of a lifetime and experience something a world away from their usual urban existence.

The Moroccan tourist industry has been growing in recent years and has been boosted by a number of factors. The country's sovereign and ruler, King Mohammed VI, has expressed a wish to attract ten million visitors a year by 2010. In terms of location, the country is perfectly placed to offer an exotic holiday within easy reach of mainland Europe. Nothing but a narrow strip of sea separates the country from Spain - and there are apparently plans to connect the two countries by tunnel. Also, Morocco is less than four hours flight from Britain. Menara airport in the capital has had to build a new terminal to cope with the amount of air traffic it is receiving.

The Moroccan property boom has gathered pace, property prices are rising at about 15 per cent each year. You maybe able to buy a house in Morocco for about a third to half of the price of an equivalent house in the south of France.

Anybody investing in a property is being advised to go to Marrakech, as this is where the majority of the tourist trade is centred. Parts of the city have been refurbished to be more in line with western ideals, seeing the installation of street lights and street paving. Property prices apparently start as low as £25,000 - although this is for a property that will need refurbishment. However, Jet2Let advise that refurbishment should not be too expensive, with labour available from around £10 per hour and a favourable exchange rate on the pound compared to the Moroccan dirham.

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