(photo credit: )
Travel company Yambateva, which specializes in organized tours to exotic locations, has announced a merger with Maroc Tours and will open local offices in Marrakesh.
The office, which is staffed by local personnel but managed by Maroc Tours owner David Edri from Israel, offers Israeli tourists the convenience of dealing with on-the-spot service and a quick response to any issues that may arise during their visit.
The merger will give the joint venture a 45 percent hold on the market of Israeli tourism to Morocco, a market that according to Yambateva marketing director Vered Schwartz, equals a total of between 5,000-7,000 visitors a year.
Schwartz anticipates that the merger will reduce prices for the tours by roughly 10% and reduce visa allocation prices by up to 60%.
"Like everything in life, there is an advantage to size and with nearly 50% of the market in our grasp, we can pass on the discounts we receive to those who travel with us," said Schwartz.
Both companies have been operating tours to Morocco for more than 10 years and hope to expand their services beyond the common organized tours for families and move into new niches like eco-tourism and extreme travel packages.
Schwartz said that the Marrakesh office was the first of its kind for Yambateva and that if it proved a success, they would consider opening offices in other countries as well.
So far the competition is not alarmed. Rafi Butbul from Sagi Tours who also operates tours to Morocco, said his company will continue to offer their clients the best tours available with the most experienced guides and that they did not feel threatened by the merger.
On August 10 the National Security Council published it's semi-annual travel warning report. The report recommended that travelers avoid entering Morocco because of a "basic concrete threat." Morocco appeared on the list next to Egypt, Jordan, Bahrain, Tunisia and Qatar.
When the travel warnings were published nearly a month ago, Edri warned that it would ruin relationships between Israel and Morocco. He told Ynet that last year 80 organized tours left Israel to visit Morocco during the holidays and that he expected the number to rise this year.
"This warning puts at risk a prosperous tourism destination. Hundreds of tour groups visit Morocco every year and have never reported any hostility towards them because of their nationality," said Edri.