A bird's-eye view can be so instructive. Drifting in a hot-air balloon over a yellow and green landscape flecked with palm trees, olive groves, brown knots of Berber villages and, as we neared Marrakech, cranes and more and more new construction, I witnessed the massive increase in hotels, apartments and villas that Marrakesh is currently experiencing.
"Between 1990, when I first came here," said our French pilot, Maurice "and the Millennium, there was almost no development; since then… it's incredible to watch." This Dubai-style expansion currently includes 19 new hotels due to open by the end of 2012 and comes hand in hand with young King Mohammed VI's avowed goal of attracting 20 million tourists a year to Morocco by 2020 (currently there are just under 10 million).
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