Businesses working in Morocco's key tourism sector say the country's tough COVID-19 restrictions, including a full flight ban, are undermining its competitiveness compared to rival destinations.

Morocco shut its borders in late November and will only reopen them at the end of January.

It has also banned New Year celebrations and is enforcing its vaccine pass requirements more strictly in response to the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

Tourism generated $8 billion, or 7% of Morocco's economy, in 2019, but the Central Bank expects it to have made only $3.6 billion this year. Hotels in Marrakech, the main tourist hub, have only 14% occupancy at what is normally peak season.

The government has approved a 2,000 dirham ($216) payment to tourism workers registered with social security who have been hit by the crisis. Recorded daily coronavirus cases have gone from around 100 earlier this month to 1,960 last Thursday. 

Morocco is Africa's most vaccinated country, having now administered two shots to 23 million people, in a total population of 36 million. Nearly three million have also had booster shots.