Morocco's craggy Rif Mountains rim the country's less visited northern coast. Much of the region "remains pristine and unique," and several of its centuries-old towns boast well-preserved historic districts. "Poverty and pollution" need to be better addressed, however, and some tourism development is inappropriate.
Here is a representative sampling of additional anonymous comments from the panelists. They are not necessarily the views of the National Geographic Society:
"Stayed for a while in the area of Tetouan. Very interesting heritage. Some groups were working on the protection and recognition of the old medina. The history and culture is very interesting and is still adjusting to a new kind of tourism. Hospitality is innate to the culture. The old tanneries were interesting to visit. But traveling there on my own, as a woman, was at times difficult. Moving slightly inland, one also experiences poverty and pollution. Several plastic bags had blown into the countryside and were all contaminating the streams. Other tourist areas had similar waste management problems."
"Tangier seems to be a city which is redeveloping itself. It is a bit rundown in places but I don't think this will last long. The port has been improved and made more tourist-friendly—very little of the infamous 'hassle' on arrival. The souks and medina are magical—more authentic by far than those of Marrakech. They have the feeling of being there for the local people."
"Coastal areas of Al Hoceima and Tetouan remain pristine and unique."