Moroccans in earthquake-hit tourist area grieve losses, fret about future


The Kasbah La Dame Bija guesthouse in Morocco’s gorgeous Ouirgane Valley was not damaged by the earthquake that ravaged the surrounding area. Despite this, the owner has seen a steep drop in bookings and is concerned about whether the place will regain its allure to tourists.

“The earthquake killed people and destroyed villages on which our tourism activity depends,” said Abderrahim Bouchbouk, the owner of the nine-room hotel his grandfather originally owned. “Our tourism activity depends on the villages that were destroyed by the earthquake.”

Everyone’s immediate concern is coming to terms with the human tragedy caused by the earthquake on September 8, which claimed the lives of more than 2,900 people. However, the economic future appears bleak for a region that relied on tourists hiking through breathtaking valleys and mountain passes, purchasing local handicrafts, or visiting sites that have since been destroyed.

“No tourists, no job, no income,” said Mohamed Aznag, a server in a café in the wrecked village of Tasa Ouirgane. Aznag had lost his daughter in the earthquake, and he is now afraid for his livelihood, which supported the rest of his family. “No tourists, no job, no income,” added Aznag.

As he spoke, he looked across at the rubble of the guesthouse Dar Izergane, which had been destroyed in the earthquake and was located near the damaged and now vacant cafe where he works.

When the earthquake of magnitude 6.8 occurred, entire towns, many of which were predominately comprised of homes and buildings made of mud brick, fell into mounds of dirt, burying those inside and damaging businesses in a region that depended on the tourist route.

Tourism provided many with vitally important additional incomes, as few other labor alternatives were available other than tending to the land on smallholdings.

“That was a method for many local farmers to gain additional cash,” said Bouchbouk, whose hotel, Kasbah La Dame, employs 14 people. ”

Since the earthquake, a tourist guide in the Ouirgane area named Ahmed Bassim has been compelled to live in a tent as his only means of protection from the elements. He stated that the region is in critical need of rebuilding. “But I hope tourists would still visit in solidarity with us,” he continued. “It’s really important to us.”

The region, one of the most impoverished in Morocco, is located close to Marrakech. This well-known tourist attraction is home to opulent hotels, fashionable retail centers, and an ancient souk.

Many people are keeping their fingers crossed that the earthquake won’t prevent the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund from meeting in Marrakech from the 9th to the 15th of October.

The director of the tourism industry union in Morocco, Lahcen Zelmat, stated that the long-planned event “would be a chance for Morocco to promote Marrakech destination again after the earthquake.


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