We have lived in Morocco for several years now and though we speak the local language, try to adapt to local customs, have learned culturally appropriate responses to life situations, we still stick out sometimes! We don’t always fit into the box that a lot of people expect for foreigners in this land. One of the most common questions that we get asked by people – Moroccans and clients alike – is “why did you choose Morocco to start an accessible travel company?” Thinking about the countless options for a travel business – what would cause us to choose Morocco as the best country to start a new company? For us, the answer is quite simple. Here are 7 reasons why we believe Morocco was and is the perfect place for us to own and operate an accessible travel company.
1. Morocco offers a vast array of landscapes
There really isn’t another country like Morocco. We have mountains, sea, ocean, desert, and history (1,200 year old city anyone??). All 4 seasons are present with snow in the mountains and a dry desert to the South – along with just about everything in between. In the same day you are throwing snow balls in the mountains in the morning you can be dipping your toes into warm desert sands in the evening. You can roll through a 1,200 year old city one day and be at a beachside modern resort the next. It really is an incredibly diverse country with ever changing landscapes. The best part about Morocco is that these landscapes can all be experienced (albeit quickly!) in a matter of a few weeks. So when you think about places with tremendous opportunity for exciting travel – Morocco is and should be near the top of the list.
2. We wanted to come to a place where we could make a difference
Both Erik and I have relationships with people who have disabilities. I, Jeremy, as a physiotherapist have worked with people with mobility limitations for years. We have seen the challenges that travel presents for those who need a little (or a lot) of extra assistance. For us, when we looked at a place like Morocco, we saw a country with tremendous potential but underdeveloped infrastructure to meet the needs of accessible travel. We knew that it would be a lot of work but felt (and still feel) that Morocco was a strategic place to really make a difference not only for the foreigners who travel here but also for those with disabilities in the local community.
The picture above is a perfect example of the need for education and enforcement. Two parking spaces were developed and reserved for people with disabilities – but they are full of motorcycles! Speaking to the attendant and having our client with a disability not have a place to park and easily access their services speaks volumes to people. Real people, real faces, real access challenges – and real solutions.
Since we have started, we have helped to develop accessible bathrooms, adapt hotel rooms, create dropped curbs in our local community and even create accessible accommodations at a local language school that allowed someone in a power wheelchair to study Arabic in Fes for an entire year. Moving to Morocco and working in the tourism sector has increased our capacity to encourage change in accessibility for foreigners and locals alike.
3. Morocco is taking steps towards implementing its accessibility laws
Every time I watch this video, I get really excited about the adaptations and changes that are happening around Morocco as they continue to expand universal design in this country. Is Morocco perfect? No – but major steps are being taken right now to drastically improve accessibility and access for all in this beautiful country. From the 1,200 year old city of Fes to the Sahara Desert – accessibility is improving at a rapid rate. The exciting thing to us is that it is not just the government doing small steps – which is important – but also the willingness of local business owners to make adaptations as well. It is an exciting time to be bringing accessible travel to this country receiving a major facelift for accessibility.
4. The moderate Mediterranean climate lends itself to year round travel
Weather here is awesome. There are all 4 seasons which allows for incredible vacations and holidays just about any time of the year. Sure, there are times that it is just too hot to go to the Sahara Desert – especially for many people traveling in a wheelchair – but when the desert isn’t an option there are beaches and mountains. If colder weather isn’t your ‘cup of mint tea’, then you can skip the mountains and visit a 1,200 year old city and 2,000 year old Roman ruins instead. Realistically, there just isn’t a bad time to travel to Morocco! When we thought about people in wheelchairs that might be sensitive to the extremes of climate, Morocco makes perfect sense. Generally mild and significant variety make Morocco a great place to visit year round.
5. Morocco boasts a good safety rating
Morocco is safe and one of the safest countries in Africa. I wrote extensively on safety in our blog here. According to the US Department of State, Morocco is a Level 1 country which suggests that travelers take a normal level of precaution when traveling and exploring. The security – both plain clothes and uniformed are attentive and plentiful. The intelligence community in Morocco does a fantastic job of keeping informed on potential threats. Crime that does happen is rarely violent in nature and usually consists of petty theft that can often be averted by paying good attention to your valuables.
So when we considered the various options of places to start an accessible travel company, security needs to play a role in the discussion. The more we researched, the more confident we have become that Morocco is in fact a safe destination for our travelers.
6. We get to work hard AND play hard
One of the major benefits of owning a business in Morocco is that you get to live and travel in Morocco! So while it is enticing for our clients with disabilities to travel to Morocco, it is also enticing for us to travel in Morocco! Morocco boasts a bit of a slower lifestyle which affords us the opportunity to enjoy a mid-day cup of tea with a friend, ride camels in the Sahara Desert, enjoy a fresh tagine straight off the coals, or catch some sun at the beach. My wife and I love raising our kids in an exotic culture with an endless playground of things to do with them. Of course there is some daily grind like everywhere else but we can be in the biggest sandbox in the world in 8 hours. We can be at the beach in 2 hours. We can be in the mountains in 1 hour. We live in a city that is 1,200 years old. There is just not a lot of downside to living and playing in Morocco!
7. There is nothing quite like Moroccan hospitality
Morocco ranks right up there with one of the most hospitable countries in the world. The hospitality that is lavished on guests in this amazing country is second-to-none and is one of the greatest assets to this country. For any lack of accessibility that may be found during your travels to this cultural gem, it will be made up for with hospitality and a genuine willingness to do just about anything for their guests.
We have seen wheelchair users carried up multiple flights of stairs (we officially say that is at your own risk!) to see the tanneries in Fes, see a balcony overlook of Jemaa el-Fna in Marrakech, or (as shown above) to see the Masoleum in Rabat at Le Tour Hassan. Our clients have been invited to our drivers’ homes – and thoroughly enjoyed – eating with their families during a celebration.
Hospitality is a vital component to accessible travel and it is readily available all across Morocco.
Discover. Accessible. Morocco.
If you are needing accessible travel and are looking for the best country to explore – seriously consider Morocco. You will discover amazing things. You will be surprised by just how accessible Morocco can be. There are so many reasons why this is a fantastic place to visit. If you have questions about accessible travel to Morocco do not hesitate to contact us – we would love to talk to you! We are looking forward to seeing you on the winding streets of Fes very soon!