Simon Calder's Holiday Helpdesk: Is it safe to holiday in Marrakech? - Simon Calder - Travel - The Independent

Simon Calder's Holiday Helpdesk: Is it safe to holiday in Marrakech?

 

Q. Is it safe to holiday in Marrakech at the moment? We were thinking of going early in April.

Al Bye, Southend

A. Morocco’s most accessible and atmospheric city is at its most appealing in the spring, with warm days, cool evenings and a sprinkling of snow on the distant peaks of the Atlas mountains. You can’t yet fly direct from Southend airport to Marrakech, but Ryanair flies from Stansted. From Gatwick, easyJet and British Airways compete head to head on the route. And Morocco’s national airline, Royal Air Maroc, flies from both Gatwick and Heathrow to Casablanca with onward connections. Alternatively, you could fly to Casablanca and take the express train to Marrakech in the footsteps of Crosby, Stills and Nash.

There are lots of good package deals around, too, with Opodo.co.uk offering a batch of city breaks from £239.

So, you can get to this spectacular destination for a reasonable price – but should you? Two years ago, 17 people were killed in a large explosion in Marrakech at the Argana Restaurant overlooking the Djemma el Fna square, the city’s hub. Today, the Foreign Office warns that the threat from terrorism in Morocco is “general” and “sustained”. It adds there is a threat of retaliatory attacks following the French intervention in Mali, and says “Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers”.

Statistically, an equally worrying statistic is Morocco’s road-safety record: far few car-kilometres are driven than in Britain, but there are 50 per cent more fatalities. Renting a car is a bad idea – partly because of the risk of crashes, but also because carjacking incidents occur. “Drive defensively, avoid stopping at the side of the road and keep vehicle doors locked and windows closed at all times,” urges the Foreign Office.

With warnings that pick-pocketing, bag snatching and credit-card fraud are “common”, and that “Intimidation is sometimes used to force customers to purchase goods,” you could be forgiven for thinking that Marrakech sounds too risky for a holiday. Yet the vast majority of visitors find it a marvellous destination - with friendly locals in the Medina, beautiful places to stay and a range of enthralling attractions. So go – but take care out there.

Click HERE to email Simon.

You can also tweet him your questions @SimonCalder

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
property
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Sport
Mikel Arteta pictured during Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal
champions league
Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke and Pharell Williams in the video of the song, which has been accused of justifying rape
music...and he had 'almost no part' in writing it
Life and Style
tech
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    Day In a Page

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week