The organisers behind Norway's most significant travel fair have demanded that Moroccan tourism authorities halt the marketing of the occupied Western Sahara in this weekend's "Travel Fair 2008". The fair, taking place just outside Oslo this weekend expects some 40.000 visitors. Read also: Stop the propaganda!
"We have consulted the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on this question, and their position is very clear. We have notified the Moroccan National Tourist Office of the answer we received from the Ministry, and asked them to respect that by not marketing it [Western Sahara] in Norway", said director of the fair, Mr. Einar Kvalheim to Norway's biggest-circulation newspaper VG today.
Queried by VG, The Moroccan National Tourist Office deny actively promoting tourism in Western Sahara.
"There is nothing for tourists in the area they call Western Sahara, and that I call Morocco. There is nothing for us to sell there", says marketing manager Hatim El Gharbi to VG.
He confirms that they have been called on by the organizers of the fair to avoid promoting tourism in Western Sahara.
Last December, the Norwegian Support Committee for Western Sahara sent a letter to the organisers of Norway International Meeting and Travel Fair, asking them to halt the repeated and misleading information about Western Sahara at the fair.
"If the Moroccan National Tourist Office cannot guarantee that they will only market Morocco the way it is internationally recognised, we ask that the Moroccan tourist office not be granted permission to participate in the fair", the letter stated.
The Norwegian Support Committee for Western Sahara has registered that the Moroccan tourist authorities for several years have promoted tourism in the occupied neighbouring country and actively mislead the public regarding the political and humanitarian implications of the occupation.
"It is ethically and politically controversial if they use the fair to promote tourism in Western Sahara. We also know that they consistently lie to the customers of the fair", the chairman of the committee, Mr. Ronny Hansen said to VG.
Since 1975, three quarters of the territory of Western Sahara has been occupied by Morocco. A majority of the population is still living in refugee camps in Algeria. Those who remained in their homeland are subjected to serious harassment from the Moroccan occupiers. For more than 40 years the Sahrawis have been waiting for the fullfilment of their legitimate right to self-determination.
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