News Travel Tourism: Morocco Earthquake Urgent Plea to Support Tourism
Five days after the devastating earthquake in Morocco, the National Office of Moroccan Tourism has issued an update on the situation. While the images of the earthquake continue to circulate, several prominent figures are urging tourists not to abandon the country.
Jamal Debbouze, speaking on BFMTV, encouraged continued support in all respects, emphasizing the need for tourists not to desert Morocco as it would be a double blow. Similarly, Arthur, a popular TV presenter on France 2, implored, "Do not cancel your vacations. Morocco relies heavily on tourism, and there's no need to punish them a second time."
The earthquake has raised concerns about its potentially severe economic repercussions, as tourism accounts for 7% of the country's GDP, and significantly more in the most popular regions. A local hammam owner recently explained, "The medina is the heart of Marrakech, our pride. Tourism represents 99% of our income. If it collapses, everything stops indefinitely," reminiscent of the early days of the Covid pandemic.
Professionals in the tourism industry and local businesses have already reported numerous cancellations, some extending into October, when interviewed by AFP on Sunday.
"Tourism Activity Continues as Usual"
In an effort to reassure both industry professionals and travelers, the National Office of Moroccan Tourism (ONMT) has provided an official update on the situation. "In Marrakech, the situation is under control and has returned to normal. Authorities have identified the few buildings damaged in the medina, and these structures have been secured," assures ONMT. "The hotel establishments, constructed in compliance with seismic standards, remain unaffected. Professionals at these establishments have handled the situation professionally, addressing the needs of their guests," as confirmed by the National Federation of the Hotel Industry in a statement. "Thanks to strict safety standards and preparedness measures in place at our establishments, no deaths have occurred in Moroccan hotels," it reports.
Regarding airports, ONMT reports "normal activity." "People wishing to return to their countries have been able to do so without difficulty. The majority of flights to and from Morocco are maintained, and most airlines have relaxed ticket change or rebooking conditions," the tourism office assures. Nevertheless, some airlines have been criticized by the Seto for not fully cooperating in this challenging context.
"Throughout the country, public places, restaurants, shops, cultural spaces, museums... are open. In summary, tourist activity continues as usual throughout the Kingdom," emphasizes the statement.
On Monday, the Syndicate of Tour Operating Companies (Seto) recommended "adopting the greatest commercial flexibility for clients who do not wish to travel due to the local situation," until September 18 inclusive. Concerning the sale of packages built by travel operators (travel agencies, producers, etc.), the Travel Companies have issued a similar advisory: "We encourage maximum flexibility to accommodate any requests for rescheduling to another destination or at a later date," states a syndicate press release.
It's worth noting that the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs (Quai d'Orsay) does not advise postponing trips to Morocco.
During the first half of 2023, approximately 6.5 million tourists, mainly from Western Europe, the United Kingdom, and the United States, visited Morocco, marking a 92% increase compared to the same period the previous year, according to the Moroccan Tourism Observatory.