THE WORLD TOURISM DAY, TO SHOWCASE SUSTAINABLE ECO-TOURISTIC TERRITORIES FORGOTTEN, AS ACTORS IN GREEN NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
The Sustainable Territory of the Jbel Bani Geopark (TSGJB) was conceived and designed to highlight all forms of green territorial development and marketing related to geo-agro-eco-tourism niches. With branding, images, and geographical origin labels, we aimed to have objectives that would better define the relationships linking material and immaterial cultural heritages with the vernacular and tourist aspect that travelers can feel when exploring our regions on the » the royal road of oases. » These regions are characterized by their geosites, geomorphosites, remarkable geological features, and a human environment that conveys the notion of cultural respect from the first contact for any traveler, making it a true « Land of Welcome« !
Our proposals, studies, planning, and action plans of the TSGJB, which were proposed and shared, allowed us to obtain an implicit agreement confirmed by a General Assembly Report of the Provincial Council of Tata Province in December 2015. This defined it as an inter-regional project covering the hinterlands of the Draa Tafilalet regions with two (2) provinces, the Souss Massa regions with three (3) provinces, and the Guelmim Oued Noun region with its four (4) provinces.
This decision came after a presentation to the Wali of the Region of Guelmim Es Smara (2014), the Governor of Tata, the President, and Dean of Mohammed V University in Rabat during the WIGET4 organized in Tata in collaboration with the CRT of the region Guelmin Es Smara and the Applied Geology Laboratory of Mohammed V University led by Professor Mohamed Wartiti, with the participation of more than one hundred fifty (150) geologists and university professors from around ten countries.
This file, presented by our association as a sustainable territorial competitiveness cluster based on sustainability, also received approval from the Council of Elected Officials in front of the Governor of Tata and the complete staff of the Moroccan National agency for the development of Oases and Argan (ANDZOA), who came to present their action program in Tata Province.
This Sustainable Territory (TSGJB) is managed by the Moroccan Association for the Development of the Jbel Bani Geopark (AMDGJB), established on April 15, 2015, Aut: 1954-36 Tata, with a permanent team of around ten people, an executive board, a board of directors, and four (4) committees responsible for implementing action plans, as well as partnerships with Moroccan and European universities and higher education institutions.
Over the years, the TSGJB has focused on promoting tourism, heritage, and craftsmanship by setting up Tourist Information Points (TIPs) in Craft Centers. This was accompanied by road signage on access roads to these regions to better promote and undesrtand that if heritage, culture, and tourism are combined, they can only serve as instruments for space development and territory promotion.
Since 2012, we have actively participated in a lot of seminars, forums, national and international congresses to highlight the green capabilities of the TSGJB’s tourism sector as an important driver of economic growth, business development, and job creation, especially for women, young people, migrant workers, and local communities.
Given the funding challenges posed by the concept of territorial planning towards these new orientations in rural areas, we have been committed to creating jobs by implementing eco-tourism pilot projects led by Latifa MAALI. The success of these projects would enable the financing of development tool structures, starting with an TIC cell led by Abdelmajid OUCHIKH, allowing the collection of inter-regional data and datas that we have endeavored to disseminate through the internet and associated social networks.
By these means, we have consistently ranked in the top three (3) of the ALEXA AMAZON GOOGLE WORLD rankings for the promotion of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Moroccan territorial eco-tourism sustainability. This allowed us to overcome local obstacles to the societal exercise of our initiatives!
Through to our communication, actions, and pilot projects, we have gained recognition from the High Commission for Planning (HCP), the Economic, Social, and Environmental Council (CESE), the National Agency for Land Conservation, Cadastre, and Cartography (ANCFCC), Regional Tourism Councils, Ministries, and more. Thus, we have been regarded by senior officials as a Strategic Moroccan Association bearing sustainable territorial economic and tourist development, green and sustainable for our regions.
Our development plans have materialized through the creation of incubators, a Sustainable Rural Tourism Network for the Jbel Bani Geopark (RTDRGJB), a Confederation of Associations and Cooperatives for the Jbel Bani Geopark (CACGJB), and the creation of seventy-four (74) IN/IN and IN/OUT tourist circuits from the six airports adjacent the TSGJB. On the other hand, our agro-eco-tourism projects focus on permaculture and beekeeping rehabilitation to adapt to water stress and combat climate change. These are innovative achievements involving local populations for better environmental preservation. This approach has seemed to us to be truly judicious for addressing the real challenges of sustainable development for the TSGJB, particularly and for Morocco as a whole.
We have always considered and believe on having anticipated the decisions recently taken by the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) regarding the need to promote tourism sustainability in its three pillars: Employment, Socioeconomic Economy, and Growth, considering tourism as inclusive, sustainable, and resilient, especially when it focuses on rurality and new encounters in cultural/nature tourist experiences. This is to overcome the possibilities of future crises.
With Geo-eco-tourism charters and ethical charters, we have also worked on sustainable entrepreneurship with our pilot tourism companies and partners. This includes investing in
sustainable tourism workforce development, chosen in situ, capable of providing a friendly welcome and demonstrating the possibilities of transitioning from informal to formal, inclusive, sustainable, and resilient economies, all while emphasizing the importance of human capital. In this regard, we have conducted our own training programs to perfectly meet these objectives, focusing on integrating these principles into our four action plans for 2023-2026.
We consider ourselves pioneers in Sustainable Territory for having demonstrated that this is possible in rural areas. By being classified for our pilot tourism projects among the 780 tourist companies deemed fully compliant with their obligations to benefit from grant issued by the Moroccan Ministry of Tourism, we have been able to demonstrate the performance and profitability capabilities of our pilot projects for these regions, with significantly higher eco-tourism growth rates than the national averages (25% per year from 2009 to 2019).
To date, 195 Geoparks in 48 countries have been recognized by UNESCO during the 10th International Conference UNESCO held between September 4th and 11th, 2023, in Marrakech. Despite being excluded by the direction of the African Network of Moroccan UNESCO Global Geoparks and the direction of the Moroccan National Commission of UNESCO Geoparks (THIS WHY WE INTEND TO REACT TO ASSESS THE FLAGING CONFLICTS OF INTEREST WHICH WOULD HAVE MOTIVED THIS DECISION), we have sought to be a force for proposals by emphasizing the promotion of Sustainable Territories (through shared dissemination to over 4600 of our three (3) Declarations of September 9th in Marrakech, transmitted and distributed to Moroccan geologists and UNESCO Geoparks members), as being more inclusive, integrated, and better suited to address the real constraints faced by emerging countries with:
International Declaration of Marrakech for the Rights of Sustainable Territories DECLARATION
Declaration of Global Geoparks for the Protection and Improvement of Palm Groves in the African and Arab World DECLARATION
International Declaration of the Rights of the Earth (Version 2023) DECLARATION
Also, we take this opportunity on World Tourism Day 2023 (UNWTO and UNESCO) to reaffirm, with a lot of shares, our Green Position and Convictions corroborated by our current and past on-the-ground presence and actions, especially with convictions primarily marked by field confirmation after the earthquake on September 8th, 2023, which impacted the Moroccan mountains, the entire Morocco, but also all the countries facing it.
This earthquake, like COVID, unfortunately highlights, in our humble opinion, the real contradictions between Royal speeches and regional, provincial discourses regarding the realities of these sustainable territories, such as those that the STJBG wishes to promote, « these Territories » which unfortunately have been, in Morocco as in many other countries, « Territories forgotten for too long. »
Patrick SIMON – President AMDGJB
On behalf of the Board, CA, Members, and Partners.