In Morocco, tourism does not know the meaning of crisis, but growth in the sector needs to be guided towards the path of sustainable development. Tourism generates over 500,000 direct jobs in the kingdom, and even 2 million when all the estimated economic benefits are taken into account. This year, Morocco exceeded the mark of 11 million visitors, i.e. 10% more than the previous year. An iron constitution for an activity experiencing strong growth since 2001.
Marrakech and Agadir capture the vast majority of tourist affluence. The Ministry of Tourism is consequently seeking to create alternative tourist sites, such as the Taghazout site. This seaside resort is symbolic of Morocco’s new tourism strategy, which focuses on environmental and social issues. AFD has been supporting the program to develop the Taghazout Bay resort since its first phase in 2014. This confidence has been renewed this year for the continuation of the process.
Taghazout Bay or responsible tourism
A recent agreement, signed on 13 June 2018, has underscored AFD’s commitment alongside the Company for the Development and Promotion of the Taghazout Resort (SAPST), which is responsible for designing, planning and developing the 615 ha and 4.5 km of the region’s coastline. The agreement provides for a EUR 10m loan combined with an environmental and social commitment plan. The main objective of this commitment is to strengthen the integration of populations from neighboring villages into the bustling tourism in the resort. SAPST has also pledged to protect the environment and preserve the local culture.
During the first partnership with AFD for the Taghazout Bay project, which dates back to May 2015, a EUR 20m facility had been implemented to support the creation of the Taghazout resort. Already at the time, the preservation of local culture and the environment was central to the project. The Caisse de Dépôt et de Gestion has been financially involved in both these programs. The promotion of environmentally-friendly development demonstrates Morocco’s involvement in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Vision 2020: Eco-friendly Moroccan tourism
The commitment of Vision 2020, Morocco’s tourism development strategy, aims to make tourism one of the engines of the kingdom’s economic, social and cultural development. Investing in this sector in a reasoned manner makes sense while Morocco, which hosted COP22 in 2016, aspires to become the African champion of sustainable development. AFD shares this vision: the 44 ongoing common projects with Morocco aim to open up rural areas, extend the range of sustainable services and make the country more resilient to climate change. The Taghazout Bay program is not only in line with this agenda: it may well stand as a model for sustainable tourism in the Mediterranean.