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Morocco’s Tourism Resilience: Intrepid Helps After Earthquake

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Intrepid Journey used its sources to convey tourism again to the Excessive Atlas communities devastated by the September 8 earthquake.

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Intrepid Journey has been driving tourism again to Moroccan villages impacted by the September earthquake.

It’s been over six months since a 6.8-magnitude earthquake struck Marrakech and communities within the Atlas Mountains area. The pure catastrophe left over 2,900 lifeless, 5,500 injured and plenty of properties, roads and buildings destroyed.

Because the earthquake, Intrepid has been doing its half to assist these communities totally get well. After the earthquake struck, Intrepid Journey’s philanthropic arm, the Intrepid Basis, shortly raised $550,000, plus $100,000 from its personal funds. 

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“It was the most important enchantment we’ve ever had in 35 years of historical past,” mentioned Zina Bencheikh, managing director of the Center East, Europe, and Africa for Intrepid Journey.

Intrepid labored with two companions to offer emergency providers to get the communities again on their toes. Schooling for All constructed boarding home faculties for women who misplaced theirs to the earthquake. Its different associate, the Excessive Atlas Basis, introduced shelter, meals, and help to the survivors. 

“When the earthquake hit Morocco, actually for our enterprise, we had been hit in the course of our core, the place we function,” mentioned Bencheikh. “In truth, rural areas are actually the core of our operations in Morocco. Particularly, all our excursions go to rural areas.”

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Intrepid Journey’s Deep Roots in Morocco

Intrepid, which not too long ago hosted Skift in Morocco at it its annual firm retreat, takes vacationers off the overwhelmed path with a community-based strategy to tourism. To make sure this, the worldwide group companions with small, impartial companies to verify earnings reaches the grassroots stage of a vacation spot, mentioned Intrepid Journey CEO James Thornton on the Skift International Discussion board in September.

Over 90% of Intrepid’s guides instantly come from Morocco’s rural areas. 

In Morocco, Intrepid takes vacationers out of touristy areas. It companions with households, locals, and small companies to provide vacationers genuine Moroccan experiences, mentioned Mohamed El Bahri, an Intrepid tour information.

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A Moroccan couple demonstrating breadmaking within the Agafay Desert

On some excursions, vacationers watch and partake in breadmaking, keep in visitor homes, hike the Agafay desert and Atlas Mountains, and have dinner with locals. 

“To know Moroccans, it’s a must to go to their coronary heart. What’s their coronary heart? It’s their home,” mentioned El Bahri.

Tourism: a Important Sector for Morocco

Through the week of the September 8 earthquake, flight bookings for Morocco dropped 35%, based on ForwardKeys. Bookings remained 22% down for the three weeks after the earthquake. 

Tourism has change into a significant trade of Morocco’s financial system, having taken up a much bigger share of employment, mentioned Siham Fettouhi, Morocco Tourism Workplace Director for USA and Canada, in October.

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Tourism was 16% of Morocco’s whole exports in 2022, based on UN Tourism. As a share of simply service exports, it made up 45%.

Sending a Restoration Message

To assist its communities, Intrepid leveraged its model title, measurement and sources to convey that Morocco remains to be open to tourism.

One of many risks of a pure catastrophe for a vacation spot is that vacationers can mistakenly assume the entire vacation spot has been hit – that they need to not go to out of respect for the impacted communities or as a result of sure points of interest are closed.

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Intrepid did a PR marketing campaign on behalf of Morocco.

Intrepid restarted excursions to a number of the impacted areas as soon as their roads had been open once more. On December 1, Intrepid returned to the village of Imlil, which had been disconnected on account of broken roads. 

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“It was fairly quick as a result of we actually wanted to ship a powerful message and ensure that our communities don’t get a double influence from this devastating earthquake,” mentioned Bencheikh.

The truth that Marrakech’s main worldwide occasions continued as scheduled additionally despatched a powerful message. In October, the World Financial institution and the Worldwide Financial Fund held their annual assembly in Marrakech. Over 14,000 attendees attended the assembly.

Within the first 11 months of 2023, Morocco welcomed 13.2 million vacationers, beating its 2019 stage of 12.9 million, reported Morocco World Information.

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Atlas Communities Proceed to Rebuild

Whereas tourism continues to circulate again to lots of the impacted villages, many survivors are nonetheless therapeutic. Not wanting to go away their communities, some are staying in tents ready for his or her new properties to be constructed. 

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