Tour operators have cancelled holidays to Morocco following last Friday’s earthquake that struck 70 kms south-west of Marrakech.
The city’s international airport remains open, and flights from the UK are continuing, but easyJet holidays, Explore and Intrepid are among companies to have cancelled holidays for the next few days.
EasyJet holidays said it had cancelled ‘a small number of holidays’, while other customers due to travel from today (11 September) are being given the option to change their destination with no additional fee.
A spokesperson said: “The safety and wellbeing of our customers is our top priority, and we’re continuing to monitor the situation while keeping our customers in destination updated.
“All customers due to depart up to and including 15 September have been contacted directly regarding their upcoming trip. While we have had to cancel a small number of holidays, we’ve also offered all customers due to travel next week additional flexibility, including changing their holiday destination with no change fees.”
Adventure tour operator Explore has cancelled departures to Morocco up to 16 September. It added: “We are in contact with our team in country and will make decisions on trips departing from 16 September once we have had the opportunity to further assess the situation.
“We plan to call customers booked on trips starting 16 September – 23rd September from Monday (11 Sept) afternoon in date order.
“We really appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding in waiting to be contacted, so that the team dealing with this situation can manage it effectively.”
Intrepid, one of the largest tour operators to Morocco, had 650 customers when the earthquake struck, reducing remote mountain villages to rubble and killing more than 2,000 people.
Intrepid Managing Director EMEA Zina Bencheikh said all of its guests had been accounted for and are safe. She added: “Our thoughts go out to everyone in Morocco who has been affected by this disaster and we will do everything we can, including through the Intrepid Foundation, to support communities as they rebuild.”
The tour operator said it was cancelling trip up to and including 12 September ‘to ensure authorities can respond to the immediate disaster without the pressure of additional tourists’.
While there was some damage to Marrakech, in particular the Medina (old town), remote villages in the Atlas Mountains have taken the biggest hit. Intrepid said its tours will resume on 13 September, with some amendments to avoid the Atlas Mountains and greatly reduce time spent in Marrakech.
Customers who are due to depart between 13 and 17 September can cancel with a credit for a future booking if they wish.
The Kasbah du Toubkal (below), a mountain lodge near Imlil in the foothills of the Atlas mountains which is used by several operators as a base for treks, said in an online post that it had been forced to close after sustaining some damage and loss of electricity and wifi. The road to Imlil is also closed.
EasyJet holiday said in a statement on its website that it had contacted all customers due to travel up to and including 15 September by email. It added: “Our thoughts are with all those affected by the earthquake in Morocco, who make it such a special and popular place.
“We are very closely monitoring the situation and we are in direct contact with our customers who are in destination, as well as those who are due to travel soon.”
TUI said its customers in Morocco should follow instructions by hoteliers and local authorities and contact their TUI rep if they need assistance, or use the TUI app to contact its customer support team.
In a statement on its website, it added: “To reassure, our teams are currently working on the ground in resort and supporting customers where needed and in contact with local authorities and partners to continue to assess the situation.”
The next planned TUI Airways flight is on Monday. “We can confirm that there has been no change in in the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) advice, customers remain in their hotels and flights are operating,” it added. “We’ll closely monitor the situation and will keep customers informed of any relevant updates.”
What are the airlines saying?
Both easyJet and British Airways are continuing to operate flights to Morocco as planned, but easyJet is advising customers to check the status of their flights.
EasyJet said customers due to fly who wish to discuss their booking should contact its customer service team.
BA is adding extra capacity to bring home customers who wish to return early and those due to travel to or from Marrakech before 24 September can change their dates free of charge if they wish. BA Holidays customers can also change their date or switch to another destination, paying only the difference in the package cost.