Is Morocco safe ? Guidelines for travelers

by May 9, 2019Morocco Travel Blog

Morocco is one of the best countries in the world with regard to safer tourist destinations. In the latest report by the British magazine WHICH Travel , the latter listed the Kingdom of Morocco as the 8th most secure country in the world.

The magazine based its report on three criteria: crime rate, terrorist threat, and the risk of natural disasters.

In addition to this classification, Morocco is the first to be considered the safest country in Africa and second safest in North Africa and the Middle East. Morocco is internationally famous for the historic, blending of ancient cultures, of Berber, Arabic, North African and some European countries and their shared history.

Morocco’s antiquity of architecture, history and people, draw visitors from around the Globe, to experience unforgettable adventures and the mystique of this kingdom. There is an understanding, that only travel in Morocco, can deliver totally. In this 21st century, the common dilemma is the safety of travel in Morocco, for all age groups and in particular, safety for female tourists which will be discussed further in this article.

Morocco is as safe as any country in the world, and more so, than many. Early in 2019, USA declared Morocco as officially “a safe place to which to travel “. There is no documented, significant social unrest nor uprisings in Morocco, as is witnessed elsewhere in the Middle East.

In 2019, over 10 million, visited Morocco, which made Morocco the most toured country in Africa. Those statistics would not have evolved if Morocco was not a safe country in which to travel.

✪ IS MOROCCO SAFE TO TRAVEL AT THE PRESENT TIME ?

The safety of travel in Morocco is evidenced by the rapidly growing tourist numbers, which would decline if Morocco’s safety was in doubt.

Currently, Morocco is politically stable and the Moroccan people are essentially a peaceful people but the larger cities do experience petty crime. Moroccans are renowned for being peaceful, tolerant and welcoming. That constitutes a safe environment in which to travel. Having said that, it is always incumbent on the traveller to respect and understand the local culture and traditions and customs.

As throughout the world, tourists are vulnerable to petty crimes. Therefore it is obvious and sensible to take precautions and be aware of the surroundings, and your belongings at all times. This will minimise any unfortunate experiences. Remaining calm and appearing confident will give a positive attitude, which will ensure your travel in Morocco is so memorable.

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” Morocco is truly a delightful country to discover. Charming ruins, Sahara, pristine beaches, enchanting palaces, picturesque streets and bustling Medinas are all a part of what makes Morocco so diverse and wonderful to explore. But life in Morocco is very culturally different from that in the West. That may give rise to some safety concerns for travellers.

In the sections following, we discuss the main safety issues in Morocco and suggest practical and easy solutions to help you deal with any safety concerns during your stay. “

✪ TRAVEL INSURANCE :

An important issue for all travelers is “Travel Insurance” – quote, “ if you can’t afford travel insurance, you shouldn’t be travelling ” Travel insurance is always important.

Here is a list of suggestions to ensure you are Extra-safe when traveling to Morocco. These are our GRAND MOROCCO tailored travel tips for remaining safe in Morocco :

  • If you are approached and are uncomfortable, don’t be afraid to say ‘No thank you’ and move on.
  • Shop around for guides; don’t accept tours from strangers. Refer to Grand Morocco re advice for guides and Morocco customized tours and holidays.
  • Keep your valuables close on your person and/or hidden.
  • Carry small bills around so you don’t have to get out larger notes, especially in the larger cities.
  • Dress appropriately –  (Morocco is a conservative country).
  • ‘Buddy-up’ with fellow travelers, walking alone could make you a target.
  • If anyone says they recognize you, it’s a scam.
  • Locals may smoke ‘hashish’ in public, but tourists are likely to be penalized if caught.
  • Be aware of people around you at ATMs.
  • Ask people before you take their photo – they may demand money.
  • Try to memorize routes or draw a map, to avoid having your mobile phone out, especially in the big crowded cities.
  • Be wary of your personal space as pick-pocketing can happen; take a security money belt if worried.
  • Don’t wear anything ‘flashy’ – you could be more likely to be targeted for a scam.
  • Confirm the price of the taxi before you get in.
  • Be prepared to ‘haggle’ –  it is expected.
  • By following these simple safety tips, you will be able to travel to Morocco with confidence, so you can spend more time exploring, and less time worrying.

✪ HEALTH CENCERNS :

While there is no compulsory vaccination required for entry to Morocco, certain health issues should be discussed.

  • Morocco is Malaria-free but carrying an insect repellent is advised.
  • It is advised to up-date polio and tetanus vaccines.
  • To be as safe as possible, Typhoid and Hepatitis A & B vaccines are suggested.
  • Check with your Home country doctor.

✪ FOOD & WATER :

Local food, especially street food, as in any country, may cause ‘gastric-upsets, since one is unaccustomed to foreign foods etc. Be aware of this situation when trying ‘street-foods’.

In Fes Medina, Marrakech ‘Jemma el-Fnaa’, in Essaouira ‘Skala du Port’ and in Agadir ‘Port’ are regarded as safe areas to sample Morocco’s wonderful cuisine.

While it is considered safe to drink ‘tap-water’, it is recommended that bottled water be consumed to minimise any gastric-upset. Another recommendation for travellers, is to carry with them a bottle with a filtering system or other methods of treating water, before consuming it. Also it is advised to avoid eating uncooked vegetables or fruit which you haven’t peeled yourself.

✪ IS TOURISM AFFECTED BY CRIME IN MOROCCO ?

Globally, petty crime such as pick-pocketing and bag-snatching are more common in crowded areas. Obvious tourists may be the target of ‘hustlers’ and ‘con-artists’. So always ‘gracefully’ refuse any offered service and always be guarded against strangers, the same as you would be in your ‘home-country’. Caution is advised and an awareness of one’s surroundings is essential.

Another concern and possible ‘trap’ for tourists is the ‘fake and non official guides’. Although ‘fakes’ have reduced in numbers of recent times, there is always opportunistic locals wandering the streets/alleys watching for the next tourist to ‘con’.

For Help and advice re registered LOCAL GUIDES in each city CONTACT US .

✪ DRUGS IN MOROCCO :

Although Hashish or Kif is used in the Rif mountains, where it is grown, it is ILLEGAL to use in Morocco and attracts a heavy penalty – can be up to 10 years in jail in a not-so-friendly Moroccan jail. Travelers are cautioned not to indulge in this activity or any other drug activity, particularly as, often the dealer is an under-cover policeman. If unfortunately, you find yourself in this situation and taken to a police station, a fine might be offered but DO NOT SIGN any documents. It is essential you request contact with your home country Embassy, as soon as possible, for legal representation. The bottom line is refrain from any illegal activity while in Morocco.

✪ CIVIL DEMONSTRATIONS AND TERRORISM :

Moroccan Berber people are a peace loving people and resent any political and civil instability. Occasionally peaceful demonstrations are held in the larger cities in Morocco. Generally civil unrest is uncommon.

Terrorism incidents are of major concern, as they are globally. Such incidents are rare in Morocco and the country’s security services are expert at intervening, so terrorist cells and potential plots are halted before they become operational.

“Morocco is very stable and has been a fine example of solidarity in the region for decades”. Officialdom works hard and succeeds in keeping Morocco safe. Any civil unrest in neighbouring countries has had little or no impact on the stability of Morocco. So, tourists can be assured that Moroccan authorities act swiftly to ‘stem’ any possible disruption which potentially, may pose any threat to travellers to Morocco.

Open-hearted Moroccans always welcome travellers to Morocco. You will not be targeted by acts of terrorism, although large bus-loads of tourists could be at slightly greater risk of disruption more than private small groups visiting Morocco, which GRAND MOROCCO will arrange.

All Grand Morocco staff regard their responsibilities seriously, to ensure a safe, unique and awe-inspiring journey through Morocco with greater awareness but with stress-free travel.

In summary, Morocco is a safe country in which to travel, as it is, in which to live.

✪ ROAD SAFETY :

As always, caution must be taken when driving on Moroccan roads, which are poorly maintained in some areas. Weather and road conditions should be considered. It must be remembered that all forms of transport, e.g. bicycles and donkey-carts, are legally permitted to share the road.

✪ IS IT SAFE FOR JEWS TO TRAVEL IN MOROCCO ?

Morocco today is primarily a Berber/Arab Muslim country with a diverse history. However, indigenous Berber populations and Jewish folk coexisted harmoniously, pre-dating the Arab invasion, and they have contributed mush to Morocco’s ancient history, leaving a fascinating heritage, still apparent today. Just 50 years ago, Morocco housed the largest Jewish population in the Muslim world, with 500,000 Jews living freely in the Kingdom of Morocco. Many Jewish relics of historic value exist today, e.g. “Mellahs” (Jewish quarters), Jewish Heritage Museum, the only one in the Muslim world.

The Jewish museum is in the Oasis neighborhood of Casablanca. Established in 1997, it is the only museum devoted to Judaism in the Muslim world. The museum building originated in 1948, as a Jewish orphanage which housed up to 160 Jewish youth and was renovated in 2013.

The museum was founded by Simon Levy, a former professor at the University of Rabat and founder of the Foundation for the Preservation of Moroccan Jewish Culture. Prior to his role in preserving Moroccan Jewish Culture, Levy (1934 – 2011) was known as an independence and human rights activist from the time of colonialism through the reign of King Hassan II.

There is much pride in the Moroccan Jewish Heritage. Morocco’s history of acceptance remains, thus making it safe for Jews to travel in Morocco.

✪ IS IT SAFE FOR CHILDREN TO TRAVEL IN MOROCCO ?

You will become aware that Moroccan society and its culture are family-oriented, and the family is a priority for Moroccans. Consequently, children are spoiled by their elder relatives. Travelling with children may give rise to a slightly friendlier attitude from the local community.

Your children may attract much attention, with invitations to enter shops and offers of ‘goodies’ and tea etc. This should not be interpreted as ‘unsafe’ nor give any uncomfortable feeling… it is typical cultural friendliness of Morocco and may act as an advantage for a better experience and understanding of Moroccan way of life.

✪ IS IT SAFE FOR WOMEN IN MOROCCO ?

Women travelling in Morocco will notice a difference from travel in a Western country. There is a defined difference in ‘gender-roles’ in Morocco, where a “patriarchal society” exists and is noticeable. Thus, extra precautions should be exercised when exploring the exotic streets and alley-ways in the cities of Morocco. Sexual harassment, in terms of lewd comments, cat-calls can be shouted to women, particularly foreign women; recommendation is to ignore. If such harassment increases, yelling “Hshooma” will cause shame to the offender and alert locals who will assist you; also a report to the Brigade Touristique is advised.

The conservative gender roles in Morocco are changing and many women opt for wearing just a simple headscarf in public and can be seen drinking alcohol in bars with a ‘mixed’ group of friends, in the larger cities. However, the country areas are still conservative and follow old traditions.

✪ LGBT COMMUNITY IN MOROCCO :

Theoretically, homosexuality is illegal in Morocco, however the interpretation of the law varies through the country. There is no real threat to ‘gay’ travellers BUT it is expected that travellers respect Morocco’s culture and law, while traveling in the country. While homosexuality is not uncommon in Morocco, it is largely ignored; it is completely unacceptable among women.

Police may become involved if there is an incident involving a foreigner and a Moroccan citizen.

Suggested tips:

  • Be aware of the legal and cultural situation in the country before departure to it. This will assist your knowledge of existing rights, at your destination and will alert you to local attitudes and tolerance towards the LGBT community.
  • Be discrete – displays of affection in public are strictly ‘frowned-upon’ between ‘gay’ or lesbian couples. Such display of affection in public is not really tolerated between heterosexual couples either. Moroccan men hand-holding can be common BUT is interpreted as a sign of friendship only.
  • LGBT travellers are tolerated, as long as the local customs are understood and respected. Therefore, Morocco remains a popular travel destination for LGBT travellers from all countries of the world. Several large Moroccan cities, Tangier, Marrakech and Agadir, to cite a few, are frequented by the ‘gay’ tourist community, making use of the various bars, clubs and many other places open for gay, bisexual, lesbian and transgender travellers to Morocco.

✪ EMERGENCY CONTACTS :

In the event of any unfortunate ‘crime’ incident – call on the Tourist Police, who are on duty everywhere in the larger urban cities. Also your Riad/Hotel reception can provide advice. Dial 19 to reach the police in urban areas, and dial 177 for the Royal Gendarmerie for rural areas. It is always advisable to carry details of your home-country’s Embassy in Rabat, Morocco. It is recommended that all incidents of petty crime be reported.

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FINAL COMMENTS RE SAFETY OF MOROCCO :

Morocco is one of the world’s amazing ‘melting-pots’ of cultures in a unique country, in which to travel and learn. One must always learn new things. Regardless of one’s requirements for travel, Morocco is a safe and sensational country to experience.

We hope these detailed guidelines will assist you to embark on a stress-free, epic journey through Morocco’s many thrilling destinations. If you need help or assist in travelling to Morocco , Contact us ..Grand Morocco offer many tours and holidays which will make your visit so memorable.

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