As you are hopefully well aware of by now, the COVID 19 (aka coronavirus) pandemic has adversely affected all of us — from the distant shores of Thailand to the maze of souks in the old Marrakesh medina. Brave first responders, nurses and doctors have put their lives on the line amidst a severe lack of proper safety gear. Restaurants and cafes are shuttered and literally, millions of people are now out of work and have lost their livelihoods. The travel industry, as you know, has been hit particularly hard. Here, you’ll find a collection of information concerning the COVID 19 in Morocco, our position, our related policies, and general travel outlook for Morocco.
With COVID 19 Still Circulating, Can I Still Book a Tour to Morocco?
For those still looking forward to planning Fall 2021 trips, we are currently making reservations and demand is quite high. We remain cautiously optimistic that travel will be mostly back to normal in Morocco come September 2021. We do recommend making travel plans now, purchasing airfare a bit closer to your take-off date, and putting that journey of a lifetime on your calendar as a bright light at the end of this long, dark, pandemic tunnel.
Right now, travel is entirely possible. We have run a handful of tours for clients from the US and Canada over the past few months and everything has been quite smooth. These are the current Moroccan directives concerning travel that will be effective for the foreseeable future with countries divided by the Moroccan state into two lists (List A and List B):
- Foreign nationals of List A countries (this includes the US, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand and UK citizens) are allowed entry with their current passport and either proof of vaccination (certificate or vaccine pass) or a negative PCR test taken within 48 hours of departure.
- For travelers coming from countries listed on List B (you can keep posted here: https://www.visitmorocco.com/en/travel-info/covid-19-travel-safely-to-morocco, should you have a tour with us, we will keep our fingers on the pulse of your country of departure.
- Ferry passage remains limited to special operation ferries between Morocco, France, and Italy.
- The land and maritime borders with Spain, including Ceuta and Melilla, remain closed.
- There is no requirement for COVID-19 testing in order to depart Morocco; however, travelers should verify the testing requirements of their travel destination.
For Fall 2021, those looking for last-minute travel options can consider Morocco, though you’ll want to wait until after August to see what the situation is like on the ground in terms of Covid variants and the effect they might have on travel. For those looking to plan into 2022, there are already quite a few tours reserved for Spring 2022 from people who have postponed their trips because of the virus. It should go without saying that you should keep abreast of the situation in your own country and the ongoing possibility of international travel being interrupted because of government intervention.
If you have already booked travel with us, we will work with you directly as the situation progresses and you are comfortable making plans.
Traveling Safely in Morocco with COVID 19
While dealing with the coronavirus in Morocco, we are blessed with physically distanced places, such as the vast Sahara, great beaches along the Southern Atlantic Coast, and incredible beauty of the Rif and Atlas Mountains. Because our tours are fully customizable, getting away from the crowds has never been much of a challenge. That said, with COVID 19 in Morocco, there are real challenges that we are meeting head on.
Over the past few months, we have worked with the Cleveland Clinic and the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) to discover the best preventative measures while on tour in Morocco. We recognize that like any travel, there is no “zero-risk” situation, but through layering protection — PPE, hand sanitizer, physical distancing, et cetera — we can confidently say the risk is as minimal as possible. We’ve worked tirelessly with our guides and drivers to keep up-to-date with the latest information available concerning COVID 19 and our preventative measures. Here is an abbreviated list of some preventative measures you can expect:
- Groups will be limited to family and friends.
- Your private, chauffeured vehicle will be fully disinfected the day before your tour begins. If logistically possible, it will also be disinfected while on tour.
- Your driver will be fully vaccinated.
- If unable to be vaccinated, your driver will submit evidence of a negative PCR test taken within 48 hours of your arrival.
- Your driver will wear a mask or clear face guard at all times while driving or within 2 meters (6 feet) of any other person.
- Masks, rubberized gloves, and hand sanitizer will be provided to you.
- Guides will wear masks throughout your tour. If necessary for them to de-mask, they will maintain a distance of a minimum of 2 meters (6 feet), and only de-mask outdoors.
- Masks will be required for any indoor activities (i.e. cooking classes)
- All accommodations will be limited to traditional architecture holding no more than a dozen or so rooms (i.e. no big chain hotels).
- We will ask you to be transparent and honest with your health while on tour with us.
- We will remain in contact and be ready for an evacuation plan if COVID 19 is detected with you or someone in your party.
What is the Current Situation of COVID 19 in Morocco?
In the beginning of August, 2021, the Delta variant began circulating heavily in Morocco. The result is that Covid 19 numbers are some of the highest ever seen in the country with over 10,000 cases reported per day. For the month of August, we are recommending against travel to Morocco. We will review toward the end of the month with more information. With more vaccinations and, perhaps, more limitations imposed by the government, there is reasonable hope that this wave will quickly recede.
Are people being vaccinated in Morocco?
The King of Morocco, His Majesty Mohamed VI, was the very first person in the country to receive the vaccine. This was all over the news. The people of Morocco have followed suit. Frontliners working in the hospitals, as well as essential workers, such as teachers, were all quickly vaccinated as well as anyone with chronic illness. The two vaccines most in use are produced by SinoPharm and Astro-Zeneca, with Pfizer added in August 2021.
From March – May of 2021, the restricted age of the vaccine was continuously lowered as the population received vaccines. By the beginning of the summer, anyone over the age of 40 was receiving the vaccine and by early August, everyone from the age of 12 on up was eligible to receive a free vaccine. Vaccines (Sinopharm and Pfizer) are, as of August, being rolled out extensively with up to 500,000 people getting vaccinated every day. Vaccinations are readily available for everyone 12 years of age or older.
It is thought that as long as the supply is available, the majority of Moroccans will be fully vaccinated by the end of August/beginning of September 2021. Luckily, Morocco has had recent experience in extremely large, country-wide vaccine rollouts. In 2012 there was a large campaign to make sure 12 million Moroccans had their measles vaccine. Hundreds of well-staffed centers are spread throughout the country. Residents of Morocco have only to text their ID number to a local number and they are given their appointment and any follow up information.
What has been the larger affect of Covid 19 in Morocco?
When the Moroccan government suddenly shuttered its borders, as a company, we had to quickly pivot. Though one never wants to deal with an emergency while on the tour of a lifetime, this is where our experience truly shined. We were able to leverage our extensive knowledge of Morocco, contacts in the government, and general travel know-how to get all of our clients on flights back home. Unfortunately, other travelers were not so lucky. There were numerous reports about the thousands of travelers and students with study abroad programs unable to get home from Morocco and other countries. Once our clients were home safe, we worked diligently within these communities to share what information we had and try to make getting home a reality for them.
When the coronavirus situation exploded…we were unbelievably lucky to be on the receiving end of help from Journey Beyond Travel. Their efforts to find “escape” options for us (the US government was “missing in action”) — and to communicate them as promptly and accurately as possible — were invaluable. I cannot imagine being in better hands. The grace and professionalism showed us during a time when they were being pulled from all sides were beyond anything we could have expected. – Linda Haines, March 2020
Economically, though, it looks to be a long recovery with many of those working in tourism unsurprisingly hit hardest. If you want to read more about how many of the unofficial workers in Morocco are fairing during the course of this pandemic, ABC News did a brief story on this you can read here: https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/lockdowns-kill-jobs-africas-informal-workers-suffer-69785841. Needless to say, these are communities we will be working a lot with in the coming months (and years) as the economic fall out of this pandemic continues to ripple throughout our industry.
For your information, we have dedicated a small fund to help many of the informal workers we are in contact with to help support them. This goes to the heart and soul of what we believe in as a sustainable tour provider. Not only do we work to sustain you, our travelers, and the beautiful environs of Morocco, but perhaps most importantly, we try our best to provide for the people who make travel so special here in Morocco.
Additionally, we were able to do an AMAZING Ramadan Charity Drive in 2021 for our Guides and Drivers who were unable to work over this last year because of the pandemic. Because of the generosity of our incredible travelers, our drivers and guides each received the equivalent of 3 months of salary!!! Talk about making a real difference in the lives of others! We remain humbled by the incredible spirit shown by our alumni through all of this.
Our COVID 19 Morocco Peace of Mind Policy
For our clients, both future clients and those who have already purchased tours with us, we have adopted the following Peace of Mind policy in response to the COVID 19 pandemic.
- Any bookings postponed due to COVID 19 are eligible for full credit throughout 2021 (and likely through 2022, though please do contact us first to make sure this is possible).
- For tours booked after January 2021, no deposit or design fee will be collected.
- For tour booked after January 2021, tours will be charged in full two week prior to the tour start date.
- There are no rebooking fees, though reservations are subject to availability.
- Annual or seasonal rate changes may apply in the event of a rebooking. We will strive our best to take any extra charges upon ourselves, though if there is a savings of any kind, we will pass that on to you, our customer.
- In the event of a tour cancellation or postponement, legally no refund can be issued at this time (more on this below).
Payment, Refunds, and Postponements
We’re going out of our way to try and be a real force for you, our wonderful travelers! So… for those looking to book tours, going forward we will not be requesting any form of payment as a deposit. You will be able to reserve a tour with us and have complete peace of mind without any money exchanging hands. We want you to be able to plan your dream journey to Morocco without having to fret about whether or not payments are refundable. There will be no payments of any kind! Please do plan ahead, let us know what you’d like to do, let us customize and make reservations and everything on your behalf. We’ll talk payments when it gets closer to your travel date.
In part, we are doing this because of the impossibility of being able to issue refunds. What many people don’t know is that Morocco operates as a “closed currency” (meaning that basically once we send money into Morocco, we are unable to send it back out… that is, we are legally unable to issue refunds). On the other hand, we hope that the ability to reserve the tour of a lifetime, without having to have the financial outlay in these uncertain times, will at least provide a spark of positivity in your life and give you something to comfortably look forward to!
At the 30 day mark before your tour, we will access viability. If you are comfortable traveling, at this time, full payment will be due two weeks before your tour start date. As a refund at this point is not possible, we will be able to postpone your tour for at least 18 months with absolutely no penalty or rebooking fees of any kind.
Our operation is a large financial risk for us, personally, but we believe in JBT, the travel industry, and Morocco as a destination. We believe we are going to come out of this on the other side. We believe that there is still a lot of good we can do in the world. We want to continue our excellence in going above and beyond people’s expectations, both yours and ours!
COVID 19 in Morocco, Some Final Thoughts
As we have put this information together and continued to update it, one thing has become nakedly apparent: COVID 19 has proven resilient and forced many changes. The only thing we can expect is the unexpected with still more changes to come over the coming months and, likely, years. We strive to be as flexible as yogis with you, our clients, as we navigate these uncertain times! One thing is clear, though, Morocco remains a comfortable, adventurous, and safe destination for travelers.
We all wish the very best of health for you, your family and loved ones and hope you are finding ways to be physically distant, though emotionally engaged throughout all of this.
The Team at Journey Beyond Travel
NOTE: This photo taken just a few months before the pandemic and before masks were en vogue! 🙂