On 08SEP, a 6.8-magnitude earthquake hit the High Atlas Mountains about 50 miles outside Marrakesh, claiming over 2,000 lives, with thousands more injured. As rescue operations intensify, the impact on the travel industry and Morocco's heritage is also emerging.
Intrepid Travel, one of Morocco's major tour operators, has launched an emergency appeal, the Morocco Earthquake Appeal, through its not-for-profit, the Intrepid Foundation, committing to double all donations up to AUD $100,000.
Funds raised will support "grassroots organizations to provide emergency relief" in Morocco.
Zina Bencheikh, Intrepid's Managing Director, EMEA, based in Morocco, stated, "The earthquake in Morocco is the most devastating to hit the country in over a century, impacting more than 300,000 lives in the communities surrounding the High Atlas Mountains and beyond.
"While many of us cannot even begin to understand this level of loss, we can, by supporting this appeal, directly supply those impacted with emergency relief and support."
The foundation is pledging to match donations up to AUD $64,000, with funds supporting local initiatives.
Skift reported that G Adventures, a Canadian-based tour operator, emphasized the importance of supporting local communities; Soumia Ait Bendawad, Regional Operations Manager for Morocco and the Middle East. The company said, "Bringing tourism income back to the affected areas will be vital but only when appropriate."
While some companies are adapting their operations in light of the tragedy, Europe's largest tour operator, TUI Group, has confirmed the continuation of its operations in Morocco, citing no immediate reports of injury among its guests or damages in its partner hotels. The company has emphasized that it takes guidance from government travel advisories and is in regular contact with local authorities.
The cultural heritage of Morocco, particularly Marrakech, is in despair following the earthquake. Reuters has reported damage to a historic mosque in the High Atlas mountains. However, UNESCO, which recognizes Marrakech as a World Heritage site, has sent an assessment team to Marrakech Medina to establish the extent of the damage and assist in creating a repair strategy.
Tourism contributes to 8% of Morocco's GDP. Following the earthquake, there is a collective emphasis on both recovery and continuing to support Morocco's tourism sector, ensuring the safety and well-being of locals and visitors.
To donate to Intrepid's Morocco Earthquake Appeal, visit Morocco Earthquake Appeal.