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More trouble than it's worth? Morocco is open again for travelers from 60+ countries

Sept. 15, 2020
5 min read
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As the travel industry reopens following COVID-19 shutdowns, TPG suggests that you talk to your doctor, follow health officials' guidance and research local travel restrictions before booking that next trip. We will be here to help you prepare, whether it is next month or next year.

U.S. travelers can enter Morocco as of Sept. 6 — but there are a lot of reasons why you might not want to.

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The north African country is reopening its borders to travelers from more than 60 countries, including the United States. However, Morocco remains under a health state of emergency until Oct. 10 which involves strict curfews in some areas, as well as letters of permission issued by local authorities.

Related: Where can Americans travel right now?

What you need to know

The Western Kingdom, as Morocco was once called, extended its COVID-19 related state of emergency through September 10, 2020. The policy kept foreigners out for several months, although residents were allowed to travel between states with restrictions.

Related: Welcome to Africa? A country-by-country guide to reopening

Now, U.S. travelers who hold confirmed hotel or travel agency reservations are allowed to enter for 90 days without a visa, and all incoming travelers must produce a negative PCR COVID-19 test dated within 48 hours of departure, or a serological test which can be dated outside of the 48-hour window. Face masks are required throughout the flight, and travelers must obey all posted guidelines for COVID-19 regulation.

Domestic travel between the cities of Berrechid, Casablanca, Fes, Marrakech, Mekes, Settat, Tangier and Tetouan requires a travel authorization letter from local authorities — a hotel reservation in another city qualifies as sufficient reason to obtain a travel authorization.

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The city of Casblanca has strict curfews in place:

  • Everyone must stay indoors between 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.
  • Travelers entering or departing the city limits must have a letter of permission from Moroccan authorities
  • Local markets must close by 3 p.m.
  • Cafes and shops are required to close by 8 p.m.
  • Restaurants must close by 9 p.m.

Flights and hotels

Moroccan airline Royal Air Maroc has been flying repatriation flights since mid-July, when Moroccan citizens were finally allowed to return home after a strict lockdown left even nationals stranded outside country borders. Other special flights enter and depart Moroccan air space, but all regularly scheduled commercial flights to and from Morocco remain suspended at this time, as do ferries from Spain, according to the U.S. Embassy.

Related: A worldwide guide to country reopenings

Emirates will begin operating flights into Morocco on Sept. 18, according to Middle East publication The National.

Flights to both Marrakech and Casablanca are quite discounted this year, compared to the norm. Flights that were between $800 to $900 round trip last year are now as low as $533 for early November routes with long layovers or two stops, or just over $600 round trip for decent routes with one stop and a short layover from major airport hubs such as Newark or Los Angeles via Star Alliance or SkyTeam airlines.

Alternatively, you can fly nonstop from New York (JFK) to Casablanca (CMN) on Royal Air Maroc/American metal through Oneworld for just under $800, or 45,000 miles and $60 round trip.

Royal Air Maroc isn't a favorite with most TPG staffers for outdated aircraft, poor-quality food and "atrocious" service, according to TPG's aviation queen, Benét Wilson. However, the Morocco flagship airline became Oneworld's first African member earlier this year, which means that you can use your American AAdvantage miles toward award flights on this carrier, or earn AA miles when flying Royal Air Maroc. And for a nonstop flight, it just might be worth the discomfort in order to get to your destination with less stops.

Speaking of award travel, flights are available to Morocco from 80,000 miles and around $100 in fees via United. Delta offers a better deal: Just 50,000 SkyMiles and $111 round trip on Air France metal in November 2020.

Your money (or points) go a long way in Morocco. Hotels.com lists nearly 2,000 properties available in Marrakech in November, from five-star riads to the Four Seasons Resort Marrakech. Rooms at the five-star Riad Itrane start at just $95 per night in November.

If you prefer award redemptions from major chains, your options are a bit limited in Morocco. Marriott fans can enjoy a Le Méridien experience for just 12,500 Bonvoy points or $113 per night at the Category 2 Le Méridien N'Fis in Marrakech. The Hyatt Place Taghazout Bay in Agadir is a Category 2 property, with rooms from $96 or 8,000 World of Hyatt points per night. Hilton fans have a few options in Tangier to choose from, all hovering around the $110 nightly mark.

Bottom line

Morocco is a gorgeous place to visit, but the present time may not be the best way to experience this country.

Featured image by A Sahara Desert camel ride in Merzouga, Morocco. (Photo by Benét J. Wilson/The Points Guy)

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  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
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  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
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  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
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Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees