While most of Latitude’s blogs are about happier topics, I wanted to use this opportunity to share with you a complete report from one of our partners in Morocco. We were thankful to hear our friends and colleagues, including their guides and drivers, as well as all of the clients who were traveling with them this week, are safe after Friday night’s earthquake.
In the below newsletter excerpt from Experience Morocco, they share the latest developments on the ground, and specific ways in which we can help, not the least of which is to continue with travel plans to visit this magnificent country.
(See prior Latitude Expeditions blog posts on the wonders of Morocco at:
Family trip to Morocco Apr 2019 - cities, deserts, mountains & fun-loving people abound
From Experience Morocco ......
What to Know:
· The earthquake was felt in most parts of the country, but the most impacted region was the villages in the Atlas Mountains. We are devastated for the families in the regions most affected by this and are partnering with a number of relief organizations that are helping with the situation, linked below.
· The earthquake severely affected the Atlas Mountains and, to a much lesser extent, the area near Marrakech. We’ll cover both in more detail below, but please note that the rest of the country was spared any damage and is operating as normal. Specifically, the areas of Casablanca, Rabat, Fes, Tangier, Chefchaouen, the Sahara desert, and the Agafay desert, are all in normal working order and open for visitors exactly as before. This is important to understand and to communicate with clients who may be under the mistaken impression that the entire country has been seriously hit by the earthquake.
In Marrakech, the main damage was sustained in parts of the historical medina. The monuments located there are closed until at least September 22nd or when the local authorities determine that they are safe to reopen. The rest of the city did not experience much damage and is functioning as normal. Our large hotel partners in Marrakech are all open and functioning normally with no sustained damage. Typical activities that we organize in Marrakech, including cooking classes, hot air balloon tours, hammam treatments, shopping tours, visits to the Majorelle Gardens and YSL Museum, and sidecar · tours, are all running as normal. With few exceptions, restaurants and shops are open as well.
The scale of the damage in parts of the Atlas Mountains is significant, and includes a strong impact on our partner property Kasbah Tamadot, which will be closed for at least a couple of months based on the latest available information. There’s better news for Olinto, another stellar partner property in the region which sustained far less damage and is open to guests. While the traditional routes for hiking days in the Atlas are blocked for the time being, we’re hopeful that we’ll be able to resume hikes (and the resulting help to the local economy) by October 1st.
How You Can Help: This one’s simple: the single best way you can help us is to convey to travelers with upcoming trips to Morocco that the best way they can stand in solidarity with Morocco is to keep their trips on the books and not to cancel their travel. We understand that travelers may have questions or concerns about traveling to Morocco during this time, and while we are extending our full support and resources to those impacted by the earthquake, it’s also important to understand that tourism is an essential part of Morocco's economy in general, and the affected regions in particular. In short, coming to Morocco is the best way to help the country and its people. Please encourage your clients not to cancel trips and indeed to consider booking a trip to Morocco if they hadn't considered it as a destination before. A wave of cancellations or a reduction in travel to Morocco due to the earthquake will only further weaken an economy that is still trying to rebuild post-pandemic.
We greatly appreciate the generosity of those who have asked about ways in which you can support the ongoing relief efforts. We have compiled a list of trusted partners that are currently accepting donations:
· Fondation Orient Occident Fundraiser: The Fondation Orient-Occident, a local NGO, will coordinate with the regional authorities and local associations to help the populations affected by the earthquake through its network of psychologists and humanitarian assistants. Donations can be made via wire transfer to the bank account listed in the linked post.
· Fundraiser for Education for All Boarding Houses: Education for All, an NGO that runs boarding houses for girls from rural families to continue their schooling, faced severe damages from the earthquake. They are fundraising both to repair their boarding houses and for emergency medical supplies and food for the rural communities. Donations can be made via credit card via the above link.
· Banque Alimentaire Fundraiser: The Banque Alimentaire is a local food bank that works to distribute donations to populations in need. The money fundraised will go to providing food and supplies to communities who have been impacted by the earthquake. Donations can be made via credit card via the above link. For reference, ~10 MAD = ~1 USD.
Experience Morocco will also be organizing a formal relief effort, to be announced in the coming weeks. While there is a large wave of support in the immediate aftermath of a natural disaster such as this one, the efforts to rebuild the villages most affected will take months, and the people who inhabit those regions will continue to need support even after the news of the earthquake has faded from international news. We will provide long-term assistance to the villagers who were most affected by the earthquake and who will likely require significant financial assistance to rebuild their homes.