Marrakech, Morocco

Marrakech-tourist-scamsMarrakech, also written as Marrakesh, is a magical city that could have come straight from tales of the Arabian Nights. Tourist visiting Marrakech will find themselves in a positive mix of everyday Moroccan lifestyle alternated with a rich history, numerous hidden gems and breathing a wonderful atmosphere for visitors. Some of the most beautiful places of the city can be discovered in alleys and streets that appear to hide not much special at first glance. But behind the often uninspiring façade you will find the hidden secrets of Marrakech, like fabulous hotels to be pampered in Arabic atmospheres or shops that are decorated like a palace.

Marrakech-tourist-rip_offsTaking a walk through the city is an amazing experience by itself. Throughout the narrow streets and squared you will find the souks, where you can find workshops with all kinds of craftsmanship and buy the goods they are making. The most famous tourist attraction is the Djemaa el Fna square in the medina. During the day, it is filled with food stalls, snake charmers and similar, and it gets busier as the afternoon passes, until it is filled with storytellers, traditional dancers, magicians, merchants and even more fresh food stalls. Numerous cafes can be found across the square where you can enjoy a drink and admire the view away from the noise and crowds.

Marrakech tourist scams

However, as in every tourist hotspot, tourists need to be aware of people trying to take advantage of the “all is well” holiday atmosphere which causes the traveler to be off guard when it comes to being tricked or scammed. The differences in culture and habits can be a bit confusing, even to the experienced traveler, and that gives those with dishonest intentions an advantage, especially with travelers who have just arrived after a long and exhausting flight.

Not everything is what it seems in the tourist hotspots of Marrakech. Genuine antiques turn out to be counterfeit and friendly guides prove only helpful when they can make money from you by earning an exorbitant commission on your purchases. If you don’t buy, their friendliness quickly turns into intimidation and threats.

Extreme commissions of more often than not 50% on the total sum spent by a tourist are paid to these fake guides. As a result of the enormous sums of money at stake, these men will do anything to get you to spend your money at shops and restaurants they introduce you to. The fierce competition for the likes of the tourists makes it virtually a war out there, which sometimes leads to public fights between these fake guides, and a grim and intimidating atmosphere in the streets of Marrakesh. These guides have full control over the shops and restaurants, and bring the tourists to the places that pay the highest commissions. Those who refuse to pay them, will not only miss out on a lot of tourist business, but will even be discredited when a tourist decides to visit this enterprise at his own choosing.

Find a helpful taxi driver and tell him to take you to places where no other tourists are. The people at the shops will be genuinely friendly and helpful, there won’t be anybody harassing you, and the prices will be much lower, because there’s no commission to be paid.

Most of these scams are pretty harmless and won’t cost you more than a handful of Dinar, but they could still make you feel like an idiot as soon as you realize you’ve been tricked.

tourist-scams-MarrakechBe on guard for these known scams and variations to them. If you happen to run into a new kind of scam, or if you have a story about how the swindlers work, make sure you tell us about it. That’s the best way to warn other travelers and to prevent them from falling into the same traps.

And most importantly: just enjoy your vacation. Don’t be discouraged by these stories, they don’t happen to everyone, and they don’t mean Marrakech is unsafe. On the contrary, most of the people are incredibly friendly, sincere and honest, especially away from the tourist hotspots, and Marrakesh is one of Morocco’s most beautiful cities to visit.

  • Aggressive taxi guide scam


    Marrakech suffers from an enormous and highly profitable underground referral system, in which extravagant commissions are paid by shop owners and restaurant operators to those who bring in customers who spend money at the establishment. As a result, friendly and helpful seeming locals almost always have a second agenda when they offer you their help […]

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  • Helpful local scam


    Everywhere in Marrakesh, but especially at the Djemaa El-Fna square, tourists are approached by friendly looking locals who tell them about a special store that one of their relatives or good friends run somewhere in the adjacent Medina. They sweet-talk the tourists in following them through the maze of the Medina to the store, because […]

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  • Fake antique ceramics, Persian rugs and argan oils


    Be aware that the Djemaa El-Fna square and the adjacent Medina with its maze of souks (shops), an extremely popular tourist destination, are an absolute sham. Goods and souvenirs at the stores there are exorbitantly overpriced, among other as a result of the extremely high commission paid to referring locals (read our Marrakech helpful local […]

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  • Tourist picture rip-off


    In a well-known tourist scam in Marrakesh, groups or solo traveling tourists walking down the busy streets or squares are constantly approached by locals that have a live animal with them, for example a monkey or a snake, and without asking permission first, they put the snake around the tourist’s neck or the monkey on […]

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