Author: Eliot Heiss

tajine morocco support local artisans

Sustainable Tourism in Southern Morocco

South of the Moroccan tourism hub of Marrakesh is the jewel of Southern Morocco, Agadir. Encompassing Agadir and various other small towns, southern Morocco is largely underdeveloped with untapped potential. Morocco has been well-known by French tourists for a long time given its former status as a French colony. What is lesser known is that Agadir and Southern Morocco have an increasing capability to cater to the demands of sustainable tourists. Its location directly below Western Europe means it is only a short flight away for Europeans. With French and English widely spoken, communication is convenient for many travelers.

Key Destinations in Southern Morocco

Curious about where you should travel in Morocco and what you should do to make the biggest impact on your journey? Keep reading:

1. Agadir

The most popular destination in Southern Morocco is certainly Agadir. It rests on the western coast of Morocco, with 10 kilometers of beaches which receive over 300 days of sun per year. It is the perfect location for any beach lover, with easily accessible cafes, restaurants, and nightlife.


tajine morocco support local artisans

One reason why this city has a path to sustainable tourism is it is extremely walkable. One can spend the morning walking up and down Agadir Beach along the shoreline. If you venture inland to Souk El Had market, you can visit the hundreds of stalls selling unique Moroccan items, like bowls, jewelry, and other handicrafts. A large percentage of these stalls are owned by local Amazigh women, descendants of the pre-Arab people in North Africa.

Souss-Massa National Park is a long stretch of land just south of Agadir, where the terrain ranges from grassland steppes, sand dunes, sandy beaches, to wetlands. This park is the best chance for nature loving travelers to experience the wild side of southern Morocco. The park is home to 250 different species of nesting and migratory birds. The most famous of which is the Bald Ibis, other residents include antelopes, boars and mongooses.


agadir sunset

2. Tamraght and Taghazout

Further to the north, about a 25-minute drive, are the surfing towns of Tamraght and Taghazout. These smaller towns do not have resorts like Agadir, but offer quieter accommodation in mini hotels and Moroccan lodges for a more traditional experience. Often accommodations will offer Moroccan dishes for each meal of the day. Or you can visit the local markets for a chance to interact and negotiate your prices with the locals.

These towns have their own beaches and shops without the hustle and bustle of the larger Agadir. Here you can find water sports equipment rentals and guided tours around the area. Located in the shadow of the lesser Atlas Mountains, there are opportunities to hike into the mountains or simply lounge on the beach.

southern morocco is a very possible surfing destination

Paradise Valley is a quick day trip. Travelers can grab a minibus from various locations and arrive in a lush valley to swim and relax. Visiting this oasis is like stepping into another world away from the dry, arid Moroccan climate. This valley is also home to one of the oldest and most traditional honey making operations in the world.

3. Sustainable Activities to Enjoy on the Coast

The Southern Moroccan coast is primarily known for its surfing. The beaches along Agadir and the surrounding towns have a variety of different surf spots for all skill levels. Whether you are a beginner trying to experience a new sport or a pro seeking to hone your skills, there is a beach and a wave for you!

Surfing and the other water sports here may be the ultimate sustainable activities. The surfing culture is obsessed with keeping the ocean clean. After all, it is no fun to surf in polluted waters. Solely using the power of the ocean waves limits CO2 emissions and makes one tune in with the ocean’s natural power. Other water activities include sailing, parasailing, and swimming. If you want a break from the water, there are also horseback riding and camel tours where you can experience traditional Moroccan travel.

morocco sustainable camel tour

How can you get to Southern Morocco?

When traveling around Morocco, you have several different options. There are many bus coaches which go up and down the coast. In addition, Morocco has a few different train and rail lines to limit your carbon footprint.

If you are traveling around the city or a shorter distance, there are rental bike stands in the bigger cities. Renting bikes allows you to take in more of the sights for a cheaper, sustainable experience. If you don’t feel like pedaling yourself, there are taxi bikes available for a small fee. 

Solimar’s History of Supporting Sustainable Tourism in North Africa

Solimar International has always been committed to helping developing countries create a better sustainable tourism sector and garner more tourists to visit developing communities. At Solimar, we believe in tourism development that creates a positive experience for local businesses, local people, and the tourists themselves. This should be done without sacrificing the future of the planet.

In the past, Solimar has worked in Morocco. In 2012, we worked to create a series of cultural heritage routes to increase awareness of traditional Moroccan artisans and bolster their income.

Solimar is currently working on a USAID project in Tunisia. The goal of this five year initiative is to develop sustainable tourism in traditionally under-visited areas, bringing economic benefits to local communities and their inhabitants. This is the second project we have worked on in Tunisia – the first was the advancement and development of cultural heritage tours, in conjunction with the Smithsonian.

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an ocean front tent where visitors can enjoy a covid free travel

Two years since COVID-19 began, how has the tourism industry changed?

People love to travel, and in the modern world it has never been easier. While the COVID-19 pandemic brought our expanding globalized world to a screeching halt, it has become clear during the past two years that the international tourism industry is not going anywhere, and we all hope COVID only impacts us in the short-term.

Modern tourists experience benefits including learning about our shared world and understanding other people’s perspectives in addition to the quality time spent relaxing with family and friends. At Solimar International, we resonate with all these goals and help build our projects accordingly. We focus on sustainable economic growth, inclusiveness, mutual understanding, and resource efficiency. 

tourists safety city center covid

A Changing World for a Pandemic Tourist

As lockdowns are lifted and new variants appear in news headlines, tourists are met with an ever-changing set of protocols before they can travel abroad. Boarding airlines, trains, and crossing the border require vaccine passports, a negative COVID-19 test, face masks, and in many cases government forms, which have complicated the travel process.

It is often confusing for both the traveler and the staff facilitating the journey, especially when documents are in varying languages and formats. However, travelers and the tourism industry have done a remarkable job adapting to this new era and finding acceptable solutions that have kept travel possible in many cases. 

These procedures add several steps to the already planning-intensive process of international travel. These measures add a basic level of security and mental reassurance that there are COVID-19 safeguards in place. Every country operates differently, but for European countries, the Re-open EU website is a good summary. 

These restrictions have also made some tourists feel extremely hesitant. Between rolling lockdowns and ever-changing restrictions tourists worry if they will be able to make it to their destination. This has caused many tourists to move away from air travel and towards domestic holidays. This takes away the stress of potentially getting sick or being stranded in another country. For some people, domestic travel is the only option, with flight bans still in place from country to country. For travelers based in North America, Solimar has helped to create sustainable tourism projects around the United States.

Travelers largely remain eager and determined, even in the midst of COVID spikes, to explore the world and get the most out of their vacation. Governments and tourism companies are doing their best to accommodate this, with socially distanced tours and promises to open to other countries as soon as possible. Tourism companies, airlines, hotels and restaurants all desperately wish to return to pre-COVID crowds and profits.  Countries find their governments under constant pressure to re-open for this reason. Everyone has an interest in maintaining our past level of global tourism and returning to the way things were pre pandemic.

tourists walking masks covid 19
Tourists taking on new responsibilities to travel

How can I be a responsible tourist during the pandemic?

Tourists and companies know international travel is possible. The emphasis is on how to do it responsibly, more than ever before. It has always been commendable for travelers to learn about the country they are visiting and to try to be culturally sensitive. However, now safety is also at stake. It is paramount that as tourists, we follow the rules and procedures of the country we are visiting. Often this means wearing a face mask in shops or crowded public spaces, or maintaining a distance on tours. These rules may not always be in place, and there is optimism that after Covid-19 the travel industry will come back even stronger.

As countries look at their tourism recovery strategies, there is a growing movement to reboot the tourism industry in a sustainable way. Due to the drop in traditional tourism, water consumption and CO2 emissions have decreased during the pandemic. This gives hope that after COVID-19, tourism can reorient its priorities to tackle other global issues like climate change. This scale of change relies on companies and tourism boards to move towards sustainable alternatives, but it will also take a shift in behavior for the tourists themselves. The first year of COVID travel showed that tourists are willing to try different travel plans. Instead of energy intensive activities such as cruises and luxury hotels, tourists opted for bike trips and camping. This shows that if the tourism industry provides, customers are willing to engage in more climate and COVID responsible behavior. 

beaches are excellent covid safe destinations
Solimar International will continue to work with our partners to make travel safe and sustainable.

Early in the pandemic, island destinations became a haven for international tourists because of their isolation and better ability to control COVID-19. Solimar is working with our partners in Timor-Leste to establish a safe and sustainable destination for travelers to experience tropical island life. In addition, new players and destinations are entering the tourism industry, focusing on responsible ecotourism for the long term. We are here to facilitate that journey. Our partners in Guyana are creating an eco-tour to showcase their natural environment to small groups of travelers that make a huge impact on their economic recovery from the pandemic.

Solimar is committed to reinvigorating and expanding the international tourism industry. We also wish to help with any country’s destination recovery strategy. Our primary focus throughout this pandemic has been on safety and sustainability. Our partners are affected by the pandemic in similar ways, but with different challenges. 

Interested in how we can help your destination recover from the impacts of COVID-19? Contact us to learn more.

COVID 19 tourism industry

“We rely confidently on Solimar's deep technical experience and professionalism as tourism consultants. You always are exceeding our expectations.”
Leila Calnan, Senior Manager, Tourism Services Cardno Emerging Markets

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