It’s probably been a good few years since Morocco was redolent of Casablanca, but its romance certainly hasn’t gone anywhere. Instead of the iconic coastal city, the images that spring to mind are of Marrakech and its spice-coloured souks, its unique architecture and its ancient mystery.
As the gateway between Europe and Africa, Morocco boasts a diverse and vibrant culture that pulls Brits for long holidays, city breaks and even day-trips from Southern Spain. Regardless of which one of these you’ve booked yourself into, make sure you’ve got good travel insurance.
Healthcare for Brits in Morocco
Anyone travelling to Morocco needs to have good medical travel insurance prior to departure. It’s important to pay a visit to your healthcare practitioner two months before your departure in order to make sure you have all of the necessary vaccinations, including any that might be particular to you.
If you have any pre-existing medical conditions, it’s vital that this is discussed in your application for travel insurance.
There are public hospitals in Morocco, however healthcare is not of comparable quality to the UK. There are also a growing number of private facilities and consultants, however it is difficult to determine whether your needs will be catered for if you have an existing medical problem and suffer a related medical emergency. If this concerns you, it is important that you discuss this with your medical practitioner before booking your trip.
Much of the country is inhospitable terrain – from mountains to desert – and, as such, medical facilities outside of cities and towns can be scarce. It is important to know where your nearest medical centre is if you know that you’ll be spending any amount of time away from urban areas.
The number for emergency services in Morocco is 150.
Travel risks in Morocco
The type of travel risks associated with Morocco are common to many countries, particularly those with populous and poorer-than-average cosmopolitan areas. Be vigilant against street crime such as pickpocketing, back-snatching, theft from mopeds, counterfeit or sub-standard merchandise sale, distraction techniques and assault.
There are a few simple rules to follow to help guard against scams and street crime. If you’re visiting one of Morocco’s many glorious beaches, take steps to protect your valuables.
It’s unwise to carry important documents such as your passport, valuables and excessive cash on you in Morocco. If you have to, try to wear a money belt underneath your clothes that make life difficult for would-be pickpockets.
Terrorist groups are known to operate in Morocco, and it is possible that attacks may target tourist areas. This has led to an increased presence of security personnel in busy places as well as those with a greater population of tourists.
If you are the victim of a crime, you will need to report this to the police and your travel insurer immediately. If you later wish to make a claim on your travel insurance against lost or stolen items, you will need a police report.
Morocco has a colourful history comprising Berber, Arab, French, Spanish and broader European influence. Its culture marries the values of its different legacies in a way that makes it truly unique and a thrilling place to visit.
As a Muslim country, there are different social restrictions to those that we are used to in the UK. Respect local laws and customs around propriety and behaviour, such as not engaging in public displays of affection and dressing respectfully, particularly during religious holidays and near holy sites.
Sexual relations outside of marriage are illegal in Morocco, and unmarried couples may be asked to sleep in separate rooms by their hotels (or asked for evidence of their marriage). Within designated tourist sites or very touristy areas, this is likely to be less of an issue. Homosexuality is also illegal, so visit the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association's website for more information.
During Ramadan, be sensitive to when you eat and whom you eat around. It can cause offence to eat and drink in front of those who are fasting, however for many it is perfectly acceptable that non-Muslims should eat and drink normally. It is best to exercise caution.
Alcohol is permitted in licensed venues such as restaurants, hotels and bars, but drinking in other contexts can lead to arrest. The perceived spreading of non-Islamic religious ideas, including Bibles in Arabic, is illegal. Pornography is illegal in Morocco, and the use or possession of illegal drugs can come with very severe penalties.
The art of Morocco is some of the most culturally diverse and exciting in the Arab world and can be seen at a great many locations throughout the capital and the country. Music festivals have sprung up around the country in recent years, with many focusing on World music and others on more contemporary, Western artists.
The European influences of Morocco have combined with its broadly Islamic culture to create a diverse and unique theatre scene, including many festivals in beautiful locations. Arts and crafts are popular, with marketplaces throughout the country offering beautiful ornaments for you to purchase.
Morocco’s incidence of road traffic accidents is 9 times that of the UK. It is therefore unwise to drive in the country. If you cannot avoid it then take extra care driving on dangerous roads or in compromised visibility, such as during bad weather or at night. Be wary of other drivers who may not observe traffic laws, and sick to speed limits. The risks of driving are fewer outside of cosmopolitan areas, however do not take road surface quality for granted.
Train travel is popular, comfortable and serves much of the country. Beyond the locations that trains go to, buses are available. Longer distance shared taxis and buses can be a cost-effective way of getting around.
Travel insurance for Morocco
There are a few parts of Morocco where adventure activities are a greater temptation, such as sandboarding in the Sahara, watersports on the beach or mountain activities in the northeast. If you plan on trying any adventure activity, make sure you’re covered for it first.
Check your policy to see whether you can get involved and, if you’re not covered, speak to your insurer to see if there is a way you can extend the scope of your policy. Remember that you might not be automatically covered for a range of commonplace activities, such as pony-trekking, so be sure to read your policy thoroughly to understand whether you are taking any unnecessary risks.
Travel insurance is vital in the event of medical emergency as well as to protect you in a variety of circumstances. If you lose valuables or your luggage is delayed or stolen; if your holiday operator goes bust or even if you fall ill between buying your policy and going away, travel insurance can help relieve some of the burden.