Published On: Tue, Mar 12th, 2024

Canary Islands open up to more tourists with £43m new ferry line to reach holiday hotspot | World | News

In a bid to enhance tourism and strengthen economic ties, the Canary Islands are set to reopen a maritime connection with Morocco, marking a significant milestone in regional cooperation.

The President of the Canary Islands, Fernando Clavijo, recently met with the Moroccan consul, Fatiha El Kamouri, to expedite the necessary procedures.

Negotiations are underway to reopen the maritime connection between the Spanish archipelago and Tarfaya. Clavijo expressed optimism, saying the “shipping line will be operational next year,” and highlighted its potential to improve economic and trade relations between the Canary Islands, Morocco, and neighbouring countries.

The timing of these negotiations coincides with a period of special harmony in Spain-Morocco relations, following a historic shift in foreign policy. Last year, Madrid accepted Rabat’s position on Western Sahara, contributing to improved diplomatic relations between the two countries.

The proposed maritime connection had previously been active between 2007 and 2008 but was interrupted due to a shipwreck. Clavijo emphasised the positive results during those years and pledged the government’s commitment to ensuring the prompt resumption of operations.

The reopening efforts involve various stakeholders, including the Regional Minister of Economy, Knowledge, and Employment, Elena Máñez, the Deputy Minister of Public Works and Transport, Gustavo Santana, and the Director General of Economic Affairs with Africa, Nasara Cabrera. They have engaged with Moroccan authorities, including a meeting between the Port of Tarfaya Canary Islands consortium and the Secretary General of the Moroccan Ministry of Transport and Logistics, Khalid Cherkaoui.

Elena Máñez expressed support for the private initiative to relaunch the maritime connection, highlighting its potential to strengthen economic, social, and cultural ties between the two regions.

She noted the absence of a direct maritime passenger line between the Canary Islands and Morocco and underscored the positive economic impact on goods transportation.

The negotiations aim to resume the route between Puerto del Rosario and Tarfaya, previously active from December 2007 to April 2008.

With a recent investment of 50 million euros (£43 million), the Moroccan port of Tarfaya now meets safety and operational requirements. Significant improvements include a 225-metre mooring line, a 10,000 square-metre commercial operations area, an 84,000 square-metre industrial development area, and a 400 square-metre ramp adapted for Roll-On/Roll-Off vessels.

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