Increasing numbers of European vacationers on the sunny beaches of the Agadir region in Morocco also want to become acquainted with the mountain villages in the Atlas mountains. Such day trips are included in the standard programmes offered by all the larger hotels complexes on the coast. However, it is rare for visitors to be able to stay overnight and to make contact with the locals and with women’s groups.
In their efforts to attract visitors from all over the world, communities and organizations in which women are very active are publicizing the oil and honey routes, rural and sustainable living, and private accommodation. “We looked for interesting tourism possibilities in the villages around Agadir and found what we wanted in the northern High Atlas“, said Khadija El Mamoun, Director of RDTR, a regional group representing the argan biosphere region. This is her first visit to ITB Berlin, where she is exploring business opportunities with tour operators, and also seeking to set up contacts with women’s groups.
In addition to beach holidays and the royal cities, an increasing number of people also want to experience the vitality of the Berber culture. Only a few tour operators are offering longer trips in the High Atlas. “Travellers often want to gain authentic experiences, help to empower women in Muslim countries, and spend more time in the villages rather than just take a few photos and then return to their beach hotels“, according to Petra Thomas, General Manager of “forum anders reisen“, an amalgamation of 100 smaller tour operators who are committed to the idea of sustainability. “Many customers want to contribute to ensuring that even remote regions can share in tourism, including in the desert and Berber regions of Morocco, where there are various women’s cooperatives“.
Those who are interested can visit villages where the famous argan trees grow, and also meet the self-assured women of the Afoulki cooperative. The saffron grown around Taliouine is also marketed in the region. The homes of the Berber tribes in the picturesque villages of the Ida Outanane region are also worth visiting, and high quality honey has also been produced here for centuries. Modern off-road vehicles are available for trips into the mountains. If the name of a place includes the word “Ait“, travellers can be sure that it is inhabited by Berbers, with their own language and culture. The well-constructed roads, extending far into the mountains, often wind through colourful little markets with large stone houses. The route takes them past caves extending several kilometres into the cliffs, which can also be visited, or alternatively one can stroll through settlements with traditional beehives, and be received with fresh bread, honey and mint tee.
The women are fully involved too, on the Honey Route, in the production of the famous argan oil, in the cultivation of saffron or the management of the region. “We are ready, but what is lacking are European partners“, explains Kahadija El Mamoun. “Some of the hotels in the prefecture of Ida Outane are quite rustic in character, but some of them are of a really modern ecological standard“, says Hassan Aboutayeb. He has been active in sustainability tourism for many years and has converted his own award-winning hotel, the ”Atlas Kasbah Ecolodge“, into an up to date feel-good museum with an ecological touch.
Organization “RDTR“/Afoulki Cooperative/Tata Region Hall 4.1, booth 218
Press contact: Mr. Abdehahim, Mrs. K. El Mamoun
Tel.: +2120528828848 c/o Andreas Hilmer +49172 4102977 www.maroc-tourisme-rural.com/
forum anders Reisen e.V.
Hall 4.1, booth 211