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Spared by the earthquake, Marrakech's traditional riads suffer booking cancellations

This riad, a traditional home with multiple stories centered around an open-air courtyard, is located in Morocco's UNESCO World Heritage list Marrakesh medina.   -  
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Cleared / AFP


Marrakech's hotel and catering sector is suffering losses from cancellations following Morocco's 6.8-magnitude earthquake.

Mehdi Benyahya owns a riad, a traditional home with multiple stories cantered around an open-air courtyard.

His hotel is located in a neighbourhood of the historic medina which didn't suffer any damage.

"We're having a lot of cancellations, especially for riads like ours that don't own swimming pools and for whom the dry season is the off-season for us, and we were hoping that the launch in town of the IMF annual meetings in October would give us some work, but with the earthquake we're having nothing but cancellations," Benyahya said.

The medina of Marrakesh is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Only some of its neighbourhoods were damaged on September 8.

Ramadan El Harras, a riad manager, regrets that truncated news reports have deterred tourists.

"It hurts. What we see on TV, the media, and social networks, there a report that Marrakech had fallen and that it lost the old medina," he says.

"But that's not true, there's only the Jewish quarter in Marrakech that has been affected, old buildings that needed to be refurbished like the Kharboucha mosque in Jamaa El Fna were affected,"  El Harras said.

Morocco's tourism industry represented 7.1% of its GDP in 2019, according to OECD figures.

A record 2.9 million tourists visited in the first quarter of 2023.

Some in the country now fear the economic repercussions of the earthquake.

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