Ancient Fez's artisans pin hopes on local tourism

In a square in central Fez, the steady beat of hammers on copper has returned.

It's a welcome signal for the ancient Moroccan city's thousands of artisans that trade is slowly picking up.

For many the brutal slump from the global health crisis forced them to seek work elsewhere.

And activity remains some way off pre-crisis levels.

Mohammed Kobbi says the high cost of copper has also hit profit margins:

"The situation is a little better, not much, but thank God, the situation is starting to improve."

But others, like craftsman Azami Idrissi say there's a new threat:

"Factories have killed us off. We go with our goods to the market, and people will go to the factory to buy them because you find cheaper products there. They have eliminated the traditional industry."

The walled city is home to 40,000 craftsmen including metalwork, brass etching, woodcarving and leatherwork artisans.

There are still few foreign tourists wandering the city's narrow maze-like labyrinths.

But Fez's ancient markets are gradually reviving after domestic travel restrictions were eased.

Fez welcomed 90% more visitors this summer compared to a year earlier, most of them mostly Moroccans living abroad.

But direct flights from Britain, Germany and the Netherlands are due to be suspended from Friday (October 22) over fresh virus concerns, casting doubts over when Fez's markets will be fully buzzing again.

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