Despite its luxurious hotels, vibrant towns, and bustling marketplaces, Morocco appears a polarising country for tourists to visit, with some claiming they’d never return.
Even though it’s a bucket-list holiday destination for many, certain TikTok and YouTube users are taking to the platforms to steer their followers away from visiting Morocco.
Expensive scams, intimidating interactions, and ‘exhaustive’ catcalling are among a host of reasons why some social media users claim they have no plans to return to the North African country.
TikToker Sophie Milner went on holiday to Marrakech earlier this year after having ‘amazing memories’ from two previous trips to the city. However, she said her latest holiday put her off visiting ever again.
Speaking to her 40,000 TikTok followers, she claimed she received the ‘worst customer service’ 90 per cent of the time she was there.
Despite its luxurious hotels, vibrant towns, and bustling marketplaces, Morocco appears a polarising country for tourists to visit, with some claiming they’d never return
TikToker Sophie Milner (pictured left) claimed she received the ‘worst customer service’ 90 per cent of the time she was in Marrakech. Another TikToker, who goes by the username ‘eight-jelly-eight’ (pictured right), said she wouldn’t return to Morocco by herself
She said: ‘We showed up to [a restaurant] I’d booked and they claimed that I hadn’t got a booking [and] tried to get rid of us. I had to show the confirmation email. So they sat us at dirty tables, didn’t give us menus, kissed their teeth at us, gave us attitude…’
The TikToker, who had previously worked as a waitress for eight years, claimed that she had a similarly negative experience at the majority of restaurants they dined at during their trip, which was almost two-weeks long.
However, there were positives to the trip too. She said that some of the restaurants they went to were ‘incredible’ and the staff at one of the hotels they stayed at were ‘amazing’. Sophie added: ‘There were some amazing taxi drivers who were so welcoming, so friendly.’
Sophie told her followers: ‘You’re always going to experience cultural differences when you go somewhere different and that’s… one of the reasons I love travelling.’ But, she concluded: ‘In general, people [in Marrakech] were so so rude. I’ve never experienced anything like it.’ She added that she was ‘baffled and taken aback’ by the experience.
Another TikToker, who goes by the username ‘eight-jelly-eight’, said she wouldn’t return to Morocco by herself.
While the U.S TikToker said she had a ‘blast’ visiting Marrakech with eight of her friends, she said: ‘The catcalling was exhausting at a certain point.’
Sharing with her 71,000 followers, she continued: ‘As a group of nine American black women, speaking English [and] walking around, we were kind of a spectacle. So if I was constantly watched and constantly catcalled in a group of nine of us, I can’t imagine what would happen if I was solo travelling.’
She added that this was just her experience of the country, and it might be different for other travellers. Looking to the positives, the TikToker noted that Moroccan tour companies are ‘awesome’, with her and her friends enjoying a day of riding all-terrain vehicles in the desert.
Experienced travel vlogger Ben Frier, who goes by the username Backpacker Ben, also said he would never return to the country after running into ‘relentless’ scammers that, he explained in a YouTube video, ruined the majority of his trip.
First sharing his positive experiences, Ben said he stayed in very affordable and nice hotels, with those in the capital, Rabat, priced from just £45 a night. Speaking to his 243,000 subscribers, Ben said: ‘Overall the people in Morocco are very friendly, especially here in Rabat and Chefchaouen.’
Morocco is expecting to exceed its pre-pandemic tourism level, welcoming 13million people into the country by the end of the year. Above is Chefchaouen, where one YouTuber said he found people to be ‘very friendly’
TOP TEN THINGS TO DO WHILE VISITING MOROCCO
Here are the top 10 things to do in Morocco in 2023, according to Tripadvisor.
- Jardin Majorelle: A botanical garden and artist’s landscape in Marrakech.
- Hasan II Mosque: The largest functioning mosque in Africa, situated in Casablanca.
- Bahia Palace: Mid to late 19th-century palace in Marrakech.
- Jemaa el-Fnaa: The vibrant town square and marketplace in Marrakech’s medina quarter.
- Ben Youssef Madrasa: An Islamic madrasa in Marrakech, functioning as a historical site.
- Medina of Marrakech: A bustling morning-to-night marketplace with stalls carrying fresh produce, dried goods and trinkets, situated in the heart of Marrakech.
- Medina of Fez: An ancient walled medina with narrow streets and ornamented entryways.
- Medina of Essaouira: A walled old town with striking 18th-century gates, walkable walls and ocean views.
- Ksar of Ait-Ben-Haddou: A historic ighrem or ksar (fortified village) along the former caravan route between the Sahara and Marrakech, a traditional pre-Saharan habitat made out of clay.
- Cascades d’Ouzoud: Several waterfalls that empty into the El-Abid River’s gorge, in the province of Azilal.
However, he said these positive experiences were ‘spoiled’ by encounters with ‘aggressive’ scammers and hustlers. Ben, who has travelled to more than 80 countries, said that Morocco has some of the highest volumes of scammers he has come across and ‘it ruins the whole experience’.
He said: ‘We’ve had three or four occasions where the locals have tried to fight me because we were saying no to what they’re offering.’
Sharing a few scams to be wary of, Ben told his followers to be ‘careful’ where they are taking photos and videos, as scammers may demand money from them.
The Plymouth native said to always demand that taxi drivers use a meter to avoid being overcharged. He also recommended watching out for restaurants that hand out menus on the street that list one price, but then charge double after you’ve eaten there.
Since it was posted, Ben’s video has received 127,600 views and has raked in thousands of comments from conflicted travellers. One user commented: ‘As a Moroccan, I think it is time that international tourists start sharing these kind of experiences. The Moroccan government prides itself in being a touristic country but still doesn’t crack down hard enough on scammers. Hopefully, things will change!’
Meanwhile, countless other social media users have enjoyed their time in Morocco, such as TikToker Kemoy Martin, who said he loved the country so much he ‘never wanted to leave’, and user ‘Meisha’, who declared her trip there as ‘the holiday of dreams’.
And tourists are still travelling there in droves. Between January and August, Morocco welcomed 10.2million travellers and for the rest of the year, the country may exceed its pre-pandemic level of 13million this year, the tourism ministry said.
After a devastating earthquake in Morocco last month that claimed the lives of nearly 3,000 people, many TikTokers have also been urging tourists to visit.
One TikToker said: ‘It is important to emphasize Morocco remains a safe and welcoming destination.
‘We urge you not to cancel your trips and continue exploring this beautiful land.’
In addition, historic sites in Marrakech, including Bahia Palace, Badi Palace and the Saadian Tombs have now re-opened to tourists.