MORE than 100 agents have qualified as Morocco experts in the three months since the tourist board’s Travel Weekly Academy training programme went live.

Moroccan National Tourist Board director Ali el Kasmi said the first 20 candidates to sign up for the training when it launched on July 7 passed within one week.

He said: “It has been very encouraging. There are clearly a lot of agents out there who want to know more about Morocco and are very quick to learn. We expected them to take a month to complete the training.”

To become Morocco Experts, agents have to work through 10 modules, starting with an introduction to the country, which covers visas, passports and general information.

Other modules cover dining and entertainment; cities;  beaches; activities and sports; history, culture, architecture and art; and the different cultural tours available. There is also a nature and adventure module, and one detailing travel and accommodation. Something for Everyone covers business travel and meeting and incentive facilities.

At the end of each module agents have to answer a set of questions before moving to the next stage. Once all 10 modules are completed, they are automatically sent a certificate confirming they are now experts.

El Kasmi admitted agents’ knowledge of Morocco is poor because the country was lost from the tourist map after the likes of Thomas Cook, First Choice and Thomson pulled their programmes in 1995.

He said: “In all our surveys, our weakest link was the agents because they didn’t know about Morocco. It had been forgotten because it wasn’t in the mainstream brochures.

“But the big operators started to come back in 2002 and now Morocco is also back. Now it is time for us to do more to educate the trade. We have taken 2,000 agents to Morocco on educationals in the past two years, but it is not enough.

“The Travel Weekly Academy allows us to reach many agents. It is permanent and accessible and we are sure it will help to increase sales to Morocco.”

Could you do it?

DO you know your carpets from your Kasbahs?

Try a few of these sample questions from the Academy, then see how you fare with the real thing. Good luck!

  • What is a Medina?
  • How long is the road connecting Rabat, Meknes, Fez and Marrakesh?
  • When did golf first arrive in Morocco?
  • Which resort is known as the Blue Pearl of the Mediterranean?
  • Which well known nightclub and music label has a branch in Marrakesh?

What they said

“I had a rough idea about Morocco but it was good to learn more. I feel I know the country now. The training was well done with information to read, links to the website and taxing questions. It probably took a couple of hours altogether.”
Sarah Tickacek, Haslemere Travel, Haslemere, Surrey

“I did the training because I am going to Marrakesh in January and wanted to know what to expect. I think I know a bit, but it’s hard to take in this kind of training unless you have been. It has given me an idea of where to go and what to see.”
Joanne Taylor, Rankin Travel, Skipton, North Yorkshire

“I’ve always sold long-haul so I did the training to increase my knowledge about short-haul destinations and we do get requests about Morocco. I did it one Sunday afternoon. At least I can now identify the key cities and suggest places people should visit.”
Paul Philpott, Beacon Travel Service, Crowborough, East Sussex

“I feel I know certain areas of Morocco after doing the training, but it was not as in-depth as the Dubai Academy. That took two months to do. Morocco took two days. It was easier because you can go back from the questions to the information to find the answers.”
Zina Tye, Woods Holidays, Bognor Regis, West Sussex