News Travel Tourism: Stella Cadente We Need Tourists to Return to Morocco
After leaving her mark on hotel decor worldwide, designer Stella Cadente has settled in Morocco. A few days after the earthquake, she expresses her concerns about the future of her adopted country, whose economy relies heavily on tourism.
At her own residence, the ground also shook. Cracks appeared in the house, and part of the floor needs repairs. "We won't complain," says the creator in a modest tone. She finds these material damages insignificant compared to the tragedy that has claimed the lives of over 3,000 people, with many others losing everything.
"The situation is truly terrible about fifty kilometers from Marrakech," testifies Stella Cadente. The epicenter of the earthquake that struck Morocco on the night of September 8th to 9th was in the Al-Haouz province, southwest of Marrakech. "Some villages have been wiped off the map. The inhabitants have nothing left." Very quickly, an immense wave of solidarity emerged, with crowdfunding campaigns established to collect donations and support associations. Initially, the funds were used to purchase food and medicine. Now, efforts are focused on providing tents, mattresses, and blankets. "What we fear now is the arrival of rain," she explains. "We need to protect these people from humidity and cold. Everyone is contributing in one way or another. There is a strong sense of unity in the country. And we, with our hearts in Morocco, are doing our utmost as well."
"Life Has Resumed in Marrakech" Stella Cadente has been living in Morocco for several years, first in Casablanca before settling about twenty kilometers from Marrakech, on the Ourika road. She, too, relies on tourism for her livelihood. After collaborating with her partner, Florian Claudel, on decorating numerous hotels worldwide, she opened a concept store in Marrakech's Dar-el-Bacha neighborhood, a highly favored destination among tourists. This establishment is dedicated entirely to Moroccan craftsmanship.
While a few already fragile structures did not withstand the earthquake, life in the medina quickly returned to normal, according to the designer. In a statement released on Monday, Seto also confirmed that in Marrakech, "all hotel, tourism, and airport infrastructure is operational." However, according to Stella Cadente, the earthquake dealt a severe blow to activity. "While there are still some tourists, many have left. The riads emptied suddenly; everyone canceled," she said a few days after the disaster. "Despite explaining to people that life has returned to normal in Marrakech and everything is secure, they find it hard to believe us," she laments. "An earthquake is somewhat like Covid; it generates irrational fears."
She also criticizes the news channels, well aware of the impact it could have on tourism. "Each of us does what we can at our level to reassure people about the actual situation, but the major television networks that incessantly broadcast the same images for sensationalism should stop. It's entirely counterproductive for the country. People will find themselves trapped in poverty that will be challenging to overcome."
"We are very concerned about the future," she admits. "We need tourists to return. I join the call made to tourists by several public figures. Please do not leave and come back soon because we need you to feed the people, help them find new accommodations, and support Moroccan craftsmanship." In Marrakech, the designer also refurbishes riads that owners convert into guesthouses. Following the earthquake, three of her clients opted to cancel the work, anticipating challenging months for the tourism sector.
"The Covid Has Financially Strained Everyone" If tourists desert the destination, it could be a crisis too many, following the Covid pandemic. Fear is on everyone's mind. "Here, there were no aids like those in France," Stella Cadente recalls. "Again, resilience and mutual support played a significant role, but the Covid financially strained everyone, from small artisans to people working in tourism. It was very difficult. On our part, we continued to pay our employees throughout the entire health crisis because we knew that if we stopped, they would have nothing to live on. And just when things were finally starting to recover properly, there was this earthquake."
Professionals have also voiced their support for the destination. "We are all Moroccans," declared Lionel Habasque, CEO of Terres d'Aventure, in a statement a few days ago. "(...) It is essential to return to Morocco. For its beauty, but above all, because, now more than ever, Moroccans will need tourism—a sector that employs 10% of the population—to rebuild." Terres d'Aventure has decided to support the Cœur et Act association, recommended by its local teams, through its foundation. Similarly, Respire has launched a call for projects to support local professionals. Initiatives are multiplying. "We will once again prove that Morocco stands tall and will continue to do so," says the OMNT on its LinkedIn page, reassuring tourists and professionals.
IMF Unlocks $1.3 Billion To address the consequences of the earthquake, the IMF announced a loan of $1.3 billion to Morocco on Monday, as reported by Econostrum. Alongside the World Bank, the IMF also confirmed the continuation of their annual meetings in Morocco from October 9th to 15th in Marrakech. The decision was to be made after "assessing the country's ability to host the gathering." For Moroccan Prime Minister Aziz Akhannouch, canceling the event would have had a "devastating" impact on the hotel sector, according to local media. Stella Cadente views this as a positive sign for the destination. "Tourists haven't returned yet," she says on Tuesday morning. "But thanks to this announcement, we can see that fears are beginning to diminish."