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

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
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
  • Get to the point
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

    Guru Careers: Front of House Receptionist / Receptionist

    £21K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Front of House Receptionist to provide th...

    Recruitment Genius: Bid / Tender Writing Executive

    £24000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in Manchester, Lon...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Executives / Marketing Communications Consultants

    Competitive (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a number of Marketi...

    Recruitment Genius: Marketing Executive

    £20000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This well established business ...

    Day In a Page

    Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

    Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

    His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
    'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

    Open letter to David Cameron

    Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
    Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

    You don't say!

    Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
    Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

    So what is Mubi?

    Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
    The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

    The hardest job in theatre?

    How to follow Kevin Spacey
    Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

    Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

    To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
    Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

    'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

    The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
    Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

    This human tragedy has been brewing for years

    EU states can't say they were not warned
    Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

    Women's sportswear

    From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
    Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

    Clinton's clothes

    Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders