Once we arrive in Beni Mellal, 60 km before El Kssiba and a further 60 km uphill until Aoujgal, we are welcomed by Abdelali Nadir, a young man managing the Gîte Aoujgal guest house. He tells us the story of guest house and recounts his experiences with the renovation work.
“It was originally my father’s and my sister Saadia’s idea to operate a guest house. Initially it was hunters who stayed with us and were received by my father as guests. My sister helped me to plan and introduced the administrative steps so that we could achieve guest house (in French: Gîte) status. Starting in 2013 we began expanding step by step.”
“As a rural tourist lodging, we had a problem with bed capacity. Another difficulty was that we didn’t have any sanitation in the rooms. Our guests kept asking us to build bathrooms. Unfortunately, we neither had the funding nor the skills required. Swisscontact helped us to equip the guest rooms with sanitary facilities and build a large terrace. The sanitation installation started in November 2021, but due to climatic conditions it got delayed a bit: the snow lingered for a long while and then there was strong rainfall. Despite this, we manged to pull it off.”
“We are proud of what we have achieved. My family contributed 20% to the financing of the renovations. For the rest, particularly wood panelling and interiors, we did everything ourselves.”
The Sustainable Tourism Global Criteria were developed to establish mutual understanding of sustainable tourism. The GSTC criteria for travel destinations, simply abbreviated as GST-D, set the bar for what a travel destination is supposed to achieve. They are divided into four main areas: sustainable management, socio-economic impacts, cultural impacts, and environmental impacts. They apply to the entire tourism sector.
Abdelali Nadir moreover explains: “Our first initiative to implement these criteria was to build with natural, local materials. We respect the architecture of the region and are preserving our heritage.”
Abdelali Nadir is excited about the possibility of future continued trainings: “We need above all knowledge of how to get more guests and how to improve the relationship with them. This will help us improve the regional image. And of course, we need to learn more about good business management, because at the end of the day there has to be return on investment.”
The Béni Mellal-Khénifra region is of strategic interest, due to its history and geographic position near the Atlas Mountains, its wealth of natural and historic sites, and spiritual heritage.
The Switzerland-Morocco Sustainable Tourism Programme: Swiss expertise for sustainable development of tourism.
The Switzerland-Morocco strategic partnership is helping to strengthen sustainable tourism in the Beni Mellal-Khénifra region. The purpose of economic collaboration and development of the Swiss State Secretariat of Economic Affairs (SECO) in the tourism sector is to support development of the sustainable tourism value chain in our partner countries to strengthen the economy, create jobs, and fight poverty.
The programme is pursuing numerous objectives, working to improve the quality of lodgings in rural areas in consideration of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) and its internationally recognised sustainability criteria. In consideration of these criteria, the programme hopes to improve infrastructure and facilities at rural lodgings, as well as visitor reception management.
The programme is financed by SECO, with a national share of 12%.