Opening Times
Mon-Thursday 9am-6pm
Friday 9am-5pm
Saturday 9am-2pm
Bank Holidays 10am-4pm

Friday, 6 June 2014 12:00 AM

Holiday Guides in Morocco

Morocco has a huge depth of culture and history hidden in the depths of the towns and cities and, for many guests, a guide is a great help to help their exploration and understanding.

Unfortunately guides in much of the world are tempted to supplement their income by encouraging their customers to shop – and, unfortunately, Moroccan guides are no exception.

We discuss this issue here, so that you are aware of it and steps you can take to minimise this. With sensible steps this need not be a significant problem of affect your holiday. Naturally Morocco has excellent guides in many places but even we sometimes fall foul of this problem,

Moroccan Guides Are Nationally Accredited

Morocco has strict rules in place to try to ensure that you get a quality guide – nationally accredited (a rigorous process) and English speaking – but despite this it still suffers from some unwarranted behaviour.

But Their Cousin May Well Own A Shop

Like guides in many other countries, many official guides in Morocco try to supplement their guiding fee income by introducing their customers to “their cousin’s” shop – typically a carpet or crockery shop.

This can be taken in many ways – the customer has paid for the guide’s time for a cultural and historical tour and has not asked to be helped to shop; or the customer may like a little shopping. Generally the former applies.

Naturally Moroco has tried paying guides more than the normal going rate, but even this does not stop the problem recurring.

Occasionally A Shop Is More Than A Shop

A quick caveat to drop into this note. In some places, most notably around the tanneries in Fez, the best viewing places are from shops – clever shop owners. In such cases (the guide should state that as the reason for entering) use the shop for that purpose and you may feel a slight obligation to have a quick browse, but quickly be assertive if nothing is of interest and exit.

Get The Right Guide

I have talked to many figures in the Moroccan tourist market – people who have worked in it for decades either as tour operators or riad owners – and this issue continues to be a major bug-bear for all. Even the most reliable local guide, who is paid extra and has been coached to avoid this tactic, can have the temptation to head down this route on occasion.

Naturally Morocco constantly monitors its recommended guides – at the time of going to press we have wholly reliable guides in certain towns and cities – but it is important that customers help themselves as well.

Communicating with a guide should be a two-way process. The guide should be imparting knowledge and gauging where the customers’ interests lie, whilst the customer should be explaining what is of interest so that the guide can adapt the tour and sicussion to suit.

If the guide questions whether the guest has an interest in shopping, the customer must be utterly honest rather than polite – state categorically whether you have no interest in shops at that time, but obviously say that you might want to stop on the tour; if the guide suggests a shop, state categorically that it is of no interest (presuming that it isn’t) rather than enter it just to be polite.

This is not a big issue, just don't let it be bigger than it need otherwise be.