Just completed an excellent meeting in Marrakech with my colleagues (some by phone). We are committed to working together to improve airport performance and customer service around the world and we have more specific ideas on how to do so. We have also strengthened our ability to serve as the officially accredited voice of airports in important international organizations.
While in Marrakech we had the chance to see some of the city. We visited the famous souk, where you can buy almost anything. We saw story tellers, snake charmers and others. Saw a fellow carve a small charm out of a block of wood, with his feet!
Rode back to Casablanca by car yesterday with Ali Tounsi (ACI Africa). It is incredible to see the different topography as you go from the desert to the more lush coastal area and finally to the bustling city of Casablanca.
Like everywhere, Morocco has lots of American influences: McDonalds, KFC, Pizza Hut, Yankees caps, and even a guy at the Marrakech souk in a John Whetteland Texas Rangers jersey T-shirt. I also just saw a Washington Nationals cap! Strasburg-mania even extends to Casablanca!
One thing occurred to me while going through immigration in both Amsterdam and, especially, Casablanca, immigration can be an intimidating experience, even for a native citizen. For a non-citizen, it is fraught with uncertainty. We need to do a better job in the process of welcoming foreign visitors to our shores, and we shouldn’t get too upset if the process overseas bothers us until we get our own act together.
A final note: we dropped Angela Gittens, Director General of ACI World, at the Marrakech Airport yesterday before driving back to Casablanca. Right before leaving I saw the new Sex and the City movie. While much of it was set in Abu Dhabi, actual filming occurred in Morocco. The scene in the movie where they arrive at the airport was actually shot, it appears, in front of the Marrakech airport.