Eco-friendly Travel in Morocco
Countries around the world are exploiting their natural resources, most often for quick economic gains without looking towards the future. Morocco has gone under heated scrutiny for its deforestation practices in the Middle Atlas Mountains, for example, but in recent years non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and even grants from Europe have been helping Morocco protect its most beautiful resources.
Morocco, in its steady rise in economic prosperity has been pouring money into its cities. The center of Tangier, as a case study, has been receiving loads of internal and external monies to clean and build. Whether it wants to return to its former glory days as an international hub or not is yet to be seen. What is sure is that Moroccans who benefit from tourists who come across the straight of Gibraltar into the port city want their first impression to be a well preserved.
Travelers who come to Morocco want to see the Imperial Cities, such as Fez, Marrakesh, and Meknes. Additionally, these travelers are swaying more towards the path less traveled as they don their hiking boots, bug-repellant hats, and their packs for one of opportunities where eco-tourism or nature tourism is a key focus.
One place that receives a lot of attention is the Atlas Mountains. With varied landscapes, bluffs, plateaus, sheer cliffs, and peaks that reach above the clouds, foreign companies are salivating at the chance to construct hotels (even casinos) and lodges that when the snow doesn’t fall, they blow their own. And, the current Moroccan regime doesn’t seem to have a problem with it. When a group of investors speaks, Morocco has no problem listening. In fact, Morocco just signed over one of its sacred gems to a group of Middle Eastern investors wanting to turn a quaint small town into what could become a large-scale brothel.
Morocco does deserve lots of credit, however. The Department of Forestry and Water are doing more to preserve some of these natural habitats. In the mountainous regions of the country, NGOs and governmental programs are attempting to keep people from using concrete and stick to their traditional methods of construction. While it looks more natural for the busloads of tourists snapping photos, it is also cheaper and of better quality than building out of cinder block. Contrary to popular belief, weather in Morocco can be extreme. Some places might see rain, wind, snow, and t-shirt weather in the same afternoon.
For Morocco, whose goal is to gather as much foreign interest as possible to help meet the demands of 10 million tourists per year, it is an essential step in the process to think along environmental lines. Morocco’s amazing and varied landscape will actually attract more attention in the long term than will a massive hotel blocking the view of any number of majestic peaks. While snow machines and casinos are never going to dissipate and while mass tourism will always cater to the busloads, it is important to think about the future too. The balance is up to Morocco to discover and it is their willingness to apply what the have learned and the money they receive to sustainable programming. Finally, it is up to the traveler to decide to what side of the tourism fence they are going to contribute.