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Morocco: UK tourism interest for Marrakesh plummets a ‘rare’ 46% after arrest of gay Briton

Aaron Day October 9, 2014

Hotel searches for Marrakesh in Morocco have reportedly fallen by 46% just one week after the news broke that Ray Cole, a gay British man, was arrested for ‘homosexual acts’ in the city.

Ray Cole, 70, a retired magazine publisher from Deal in Kent, was arrested last month during a holiday to Marrakesh to visit his Moroccan friend, Jamal Jam Wald Nass.

After being released on Tuesday, Cole described his 20-day experience in the jail as like “a concentration camp.”

Now Trivago, a hotel comparison website, is saying that hotel searches to the Moroccan city have fallen drastically.

According to TTG Digital, the website compared hotel searches for Marrakesh made by UK travellers on Monday October 6 and Tuesday October 7, and then compared them with searches made on the same days the previous week.

It found that interest had plummeted by 46%.

Trivago spokesperson Denise Bartlett said: “Forty-six per cent is a significant decrease rarely seen in popular tourist destinations – following the military coup in Thailand in May 2014, hotel searches decreased by just 26 per cent.”

Additionally, interest in Morocco as a whole has also dropped by 31% across the same period.

Ms Bartlett added: “Although the British tourist in question has now been released, it will be interesting to see if tourists continue to avoid the destination.

“Morocco is a year-round popular choice among UK holidaymakers…Morocco’s tourism economy would no doubt suffer from a sharp decline in British tourists.”

Petitions had been started prior to his release, calling for him to be let out, and to stop the arrest of same-sex couples engaging in consensual relationships.

The Moroccan friend who was jailed alongside Ray Cole also appears to have since been released, but may still face jail.

More: Americas, Anti-gay, anti-gay law, anti-gay laws, Discrimination, Gay rights, gay weddings, Homophobia, LGBT, LGBT rights

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