Tourist-Host Relationship in Morocco

 Word Count: 1507                      Author: Kimi Ural                                Created: 2018                    Grade: 82% (1st)

Table of contents

Emanuel de Kandt’s Three Tourist-Host Encounters
1. Purchasing goods or services
2. Side by Side Encounter
3. Exchanging information and ideas


Tourism affects the behaviour and thoughts of both, tourists and locals in a positive and negative way. At the same time the destination can affect the tourists in a positive and negative way. Many of these impressions are caused through the interaction between locals and tourists according to Wall and Mathieson (2006).

Therefore, the following essay will be focusing on the socio-cultural impacts that occur during the host-tourist interaction. The key issues mentioned are based on the field trip to Morocco and the personal experiences collected at the destination.

Emanuel de Kandt’s Three Tourist-Host Encounters

As de Kandt mentions, there are three different types of tourist-host encounter: 1. During the purchase of goods or services from locals; 2. Tourists and host being side by side; 3. Both parties being face to face when exchanging information and ideas (1979). The 3rd encounter being the most valuable, yet rarest one amongst the others which the field trip demonstrated. The first encounter was most commonly experienced by myself while being in Morocco.

1. Purchasing goods or services

Marrakech being the most visited Moroccan city with a record number of 2.5 million tourists in 2017 pushes the local tourist marketing industry with no surprise (Xinhua, 2018). Locals see an opportunity in making money from tourists, therefore enter this sector. Unfortunately, most sellers I encountered were too fixated on forcefully making profit rather than considering the tourists desires. At Jemaa el-Fnaa, a square in the heart of Marrakech offering shops, restaurants and entertainment, the locals were rather aggressive. Besides the already uncomfortably crowded environment at night (Picture 1), restaurant employees and shop owners desperately try to advertise their goods and services with no empathy on the visitors feelings nor accepting no as an answer when following tourists across the entire square. Perhaps, leading to a short term increase of sales as Zboja et al. (2016) mentions through the “hard-sell”. However, this pressuring behaviour added to the already existing uncomfortableness makes the tourists want to leave rather than spend more time there, never-mind buying something way too overpriced to support the locals behaviour. Thus, a coercive sales technique is not beneficial to the company’s success, instead, a more persuasive technique should be used in order to increase long-term sales.

Picture 1

During the day time, the square was less busy, yet pressuring people would still manage to destroy the visitors experience. Snake charmers would encourage tourists to take pictures, seeming friendly and understanding, which ultimately turns out as a phased and technique to scam the foreigners. I fell in to this trap quicker than I realised, all of a sudden I had a snake around my neck and was forced to pay the snake charmer. I was grabbed by my wrist and forcefully asked to pay 100 Dirham (Picture 2). An unwanted service of little to no value, I was not willing to pay, yet given almost no chance to escape. Some customers may obey the locals wishes and pay the amount as some of the other students on this trip did which I found out after discussing this matter later on. However, many tourists including myself would make up excuses such as having no money at all or not the full amount in order to get out of the situation. Even if the situation has been escaped successfully, a negative impression of the locals still remains along with a bad memory of the visit to Morocco. Shared by several trip advisor reviews of tourists advising others to avoid this place, due to the dissatisfaction, leading in a decrease of visitor numbers (TripAdvisor, 2018).

Picture 2

Besides aggressive sellers, the field trip also exposed us to children begging or trying to sell goods at every pit stop (Picture 3). These children silently stared at tourists while following them with hand made crafts for sale (Picture 4). As argued by Inkson and Minnaert this is common in developing countries, such as Morocco where it is seen as an encouragement of the culture to depend on ‘hand-outs’ (2012). This was also reflected by what one of the tour guides mentioned during the question and answer panel (Explore Staff, 2018): One of the problems Morocco has is that tourists offer the local children sweets causing them to immediately approach tourists when spotted, therefore develop a depending culture as mentioned previously. A simple solution would be encouraging tourists to give the sweets to a responsible adult instead of the children themselves. This way the sweets can get distributed without the direct association to tourists and also the intake can be regulated since too many sweets can be harmful for the children. Thus, tourists would be bothered less by children in order to improve the customer experience.

Picture 3 Picture 4

Even when products or services are not directly purchased, talking pictures of the locals and their goods is still seen as the first of de Kandts three encounters (1979). Being a western European visitor, seeing meat hanging outside of a butcher without cooling in April is quite exotic (Picture 5). Therefore, the desire to take a picture is highly common amongst most visitors in order to relive the experience as well as sharing it with friends and family who may never be able to visit these places. It can also be argued that taking pictures while being on holiday improves the tourists happiness, well-being and overall travel experience, although not enough research has been made on this theory to be confirmed as mentioned by Gillet, Schmitz, and Mitas, (2016). Personally speaking, taking pictures and videos is my hobby and therefore an entertaining activity that enhances my personal visitor experience. Although, the locals disapprove, they aim to avoid any pictures taken of themselves or their goods. Travellers want to keep the memories in forms of pictures or videos and not just of the landscape but also the authentic day to day life of the locals including the extraordinary butcher. Sadly, this is not possible with most locals in Morocco.

Picture 5

2. Side by Side Encounter

Even when indirectly taken pictures of, such as in the side by side encounter, locals do not allow tourists to take pictures, also when the locals are not intended to be the main focus point. While hiking through villages near the Atlas Mountains I was recording the path we walked on, when some locals arrived with sheep, they immediately raised their finger and shouted at me (Picture 6). Picture 6

3. Exchanging information and ideas

Moving on from the negatives, I additionally encountered some exchanging information and ideas situations with the locals. Once the locals trust is gained, their true identity will show including a welcoming open heart and home, offering tea and nuts for any visitors (Picture 7). Part of the field trip was an invite to a locals home where we were able to sit with the homeowner in his living room like a big family. Finally a smiling local that welcomes us with their hospitality. Seeing the homeowner happy, reflected a positive attitude, gratefulness and happiness on to ourselves. The owner taught us how local friends and families spend their time together. Furthermore, the locals taught us how to poor tea the traditional way. This was a great experience, however, this would have been less likely to happen if this part was not included in the explore tour package. When visiting Morocco as an individual without booking a packaged holiday or tour, these encounters are less likely to happen. Unless, the visitor stays with an Airbnb host which according to Sthapit and Jiménez-Barreto mainly results in positive socio-cultural encounters due to the high interaction and aim to satisfy the customers (2018). Hence, tourists shall be encouraged to book an Airbnb accommodation instead of a hotel in order to maximise their cultural experience and interaction with locals.

Picture 7

Finally, I came in to contact with three local children who walked around the small village on top of the mountains where we stayed overnight. They seemed curious about seeing foreigners and smiled and waved whenever they saw us. Due to the language barrier we could not verbally communicate, yet I aimed to teach them a skill. With some gestures and sign language I eventually managed to bring the information across and teach the kids how to make duck noises and whistle with two fingers. The children were incredibly happy, which made me happy and feel like I have accomplished something. Moreover, concurring the language barrier is always an incredibly rewarding and fascinating sensation as well as incredibly important in many areas of human interaction as Schmidt et al. mention (2015.)


Overall, Moroccos tourist management should improve in terms of raising awareness of the current issues such as the dependent children in order to prevent tourist from repeating mistakes. On the other hand, locals should have enforced regulations on how they interact with customers for the country’s sake in order to maintain positive development and high visitor numbers.


De Kandt, E., (1979). Tourism – Passport to Development? Oxford University Press, New York.

Explore Staff., (2018) Question and Answer Panel, 18 April. Available:

Gillet, S., Schmitz, P. & Mitas, O., 2016. The Snap-Happy Tourist. Journal of Hospitality &

Tourism Research, 40(1), pp.37–57.
Inkson, C., and Minnaert, L (2012). Tourism Management. London: SAGE Publications

Ltd. pp.239.
Schmidt et al., 2015. Der Sprachbarriere zum Trotz. Der Urologe, 54(1), pp.76–77.

Sthapit, E. & Jiménez-Barreto, J., 2018. Sharing in the host–guest relationship: perspectives on the Airbnb hospitality experience. Anatolia, pp.1–3.

TripAdvisor., (2018). Jemaa el-Fnaa. Available: Attraction_Review-g293734-d318047-Reviews-or30-Jemaa_el_Fnaa- Marrakech_Marrakech_Tensift_El_Haouz_Region.html. Last accessed 8th May 2018.

Wall, G., and Mathieson, A., (2006). Tourism: Change, Impact and Oppurtunities. Edinburgh: Pearson Education Limited. pp.223.

Xinhua., (2018). Morocco’s top tourist hub attracts record number of visitors in 2017.Available: WS5a4c7dfea31008cf16da4e4e.html. Last accessed 7th May 2018.

Zboja, J., Clark, J. & Haytko, R., 2016. An offer you can’t refuse: consumer perceptions of sales pressure. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 44(6), pp.806–821.

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