Morocco’s Vision 2020: Towards a model of sustainable tourism

By 2020, Morocco aims to position herself amongst the top twenty tourist destinations in the world through a strategic model of sustainable tourism. By Tan Hui Zhen.

Morocco, 3rd September 2015- Vision 2020 is the strategic roadmap for Morocco’s tourism sector over the next five years. Prepared by the Department of Tourism, the document outlines investments for the development of sustainable tourism in the country. The goal is to differentiate itself by offering a wide range of cultural and nature tourism products to the international market.

As part of the “Thousand Gardens of Africa” project started by Slow Food- an international grassroots organization that promotes access to quality, clean and fair food; local communities in Morocco are encouraged to adopt sustainable farming practices and take a direct involvement in cultivating their own food gardens.

 The government has also launched several new eco-resorts as part of its long-term sustainable development plan- one of which is Taghzaout Bay.

The government has also launched several new eco-resorts as part of its long-term sustainable development plan- one of which is Taghzaout Bay.

Designed as a one-stop destination in the Atlantic Ocean for sports, culture, sea, nature and eco-tourism, the seaside resort extends over 615 hectares and includes high-end hotels, holiday residences and various sporting and leisure facilities.

More significantly, the project stands out for their sustainable development initiatives. Amongst other commitments, the developer has established a cooperative to provide a sustainable income for the local Argan women.

Meanwhile, revitalization projects are outlined for the Mogador archipelago and the UNESCO town of Essaouiria. Both historical sites currently suffer from severe architectural and environmental degradation, and uncontrolled urban development. The vision is to create alternative livelihoods for inhabitants so that growing pressures on the environment can be curbed for the long-term preservation of the country’s natural and built heritage.

Tourism is a major economic driver for Morocco. It contributes to 7.5% of the GDP and accounts for “an annual sale of 5.3 billion Euros, more than half a million jobs, 10.3 million foreign arrivals and a total 20 million presences”, says Jazia Santissi, Director of the National Tourist Board.

The sector is poised to grow further under Vision 2020.

In 2014, rural and nature tourism alone received 1.6 billion Euros worth of investments. This year, a series of projects are in the works to bring international arrivals up to 12 million. They include an app and endeavours like “Marrakachef Express” and “Donnavventura” that offer novel ways to exploring different landscapes of Morocco.