Travel industry springs into action following Morocco’s devastating earthquake

TOPSHOT - A woman looks at the rubble of a building in the earthquake-damaged old city in Marrakesh on September 9, 2023. A powerful earthquake that shook Morocco late September 8 killed more than 600 people, interior ministry figures showed, sending terrified residents fleeing their homes in the middle of the night. (Photo by FADEL SENNA / AFP) (Photo by FADEL SENNA/AFP via Getty Images)

A 6.8 magnitude earthquake devastated Morocco on Friday night, with 2,122 dead, 2,421 injured, and of those at least 1,400 in critical condition, NBC reported.

The earthquake, which took place in the Moroccan High Atlas Mountain range – about 70km from Marrakesh, has been felt across multiple cities in the nation. Infrastructure, including power, water and communications, has been greatly impacted and Smartraveller has warned that after shocks could occur.

In light of the devastation, multiple tour operators and wholesalers that operate in Morocco have sprung into action with an array of updates and initiatives to address the issue.

Intrepid Travel, which frequently operates tours in Morocco, has launched an emergency appeal to raise urgent funds to support recovery efforts. In less than 24 hours, the wholesaler has nearly raised $140K. 

Biheng Zhang, the general manager of The Intrepid Foundation (TIF), praised those who had donated and highlighted the critical role this will play in recovery.

“We have two existing TIF partners – Education for All and High Atlas Foundation – both personally devastated by the earthquake and yet moving quickly to provide necessary supplies to impacted families, including getting resources to remote villages that have been most deeply affected. Our fundraising efforts will help their immediate efforts,” Zhang said. He went on to highlight that TIF is matching very donation up to $100k.

G Adventures has also taken action following the earthquake, telling Travel Weekly that it is currently running tours, except those travelling to the areas most impacted, which are those visiting Mount Toubkal.

“We are rerouting tours heading to Imlil and Ait Ben Haddou accordingly to avoid these destinations. We are also offering alternative experiences in Marrakech to avoid the Medina, which has sadly been impacted by the earthquake,” a spokesperson said.

G Adventures has highlighted the importance of keeping areas clear and let emergency services fulfil their role. The company said it will assess when it is appropriate to resume trips.

“Bringing tourism income back to the affected areas will be vital to support the local communities, but only when it is the appropriate time, and we do not yet know when that will be.”

Dennis Bunnik, the joint-CEO of Bunnik Tours, said that his company has a couple of groups in Morocco that are “all safe and well.”

“The situation on the ground is still being assessed but changes will be required to touring itineraries as a result of damage to the old medina in Marrakesh as well as the impacted areas of the High Atlas Mountains. We are working with our local office to confirm these changes now.”

Bunnik told Travel Weekly that his company is reaching out to clients that have groups departing for Morocco in the coming two weeks to update them on the developing situation.

“Tours to Morocco are proceeding as the vast majority of the country’s tourism sights are not impacted,” he said.

Toni Ambler from TTC confirmed that all its guests travelling across its brands are safe and we have adjusted itineraries over the weekend to move guests out of Marrakesh.

“(We) will continue to make any amendments to our itineraries in accordance with the situation on the ground. We reassure our agents and guests that are travelling with us soon to the destination of Morrocco that we are working closely with our team in Morocco to take care of our guest’s well-being, with the locals who are affected in mind,” Ambler said.

Travel Weekly awaits response from Luxury Escapes regarding how it is approaching the disaster.

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