Drâa-Tafilalet begins a bifurcation of its tourist vision

Make the capital of Drâa-Tafilalet a rival to Ouarzazate, an undeniable burden of regional tourism. This is the ambition of the DH 870 million plan to revive tourism in the region. This mega investment program planned for 2022-2027 marks a break with the previous roadmap, but is not unanimous.

In the midst of the economic slump, Drâa-Tafilalet is trying to make a bold move, to say the least. Tuesday, December 28, 2021, the city of Errachidia hosted an extraordinary session, at first glance banal, which nevertheless intended to change the face of the region.

Three conventions were on the agenda of this meeting chaired by the council: the implementation of a program to fight fires threatening the oases, a program of incubators of young shoots and, finally, and not the least , a plan of 870 million DH to revive tourism in the five provinces of the region.

It is, a priori, the latter which seems to keep the leaders of the region in suspense at a time when entire sections of the local economy find themselves confronted with desperate situations. Scheduled for the period 2022-2027, this mega investment plan marks a complete break with the previous roadmap. From now on, it is a question of endowing the region with a second tourist pole, in this case, Errachidia. A desire that is reflected in the distribution of the investment amounts granted, Errachidia monopolizing 41.4% of the overall budget (or 285 million DH). “It’s a political choice,” says Mohamed Takhchi, president of CRT Drâa-Tafilalet. Before continuing: “We do not speak the same language with elected officials. At the same time, our role is confined to promotion ”.

Making the capital of Drâa-Tafilalet a direct rival to Ouarzazate is not the only point of contention between the actors involved in the tourism value chain, as the distribution of resources allocated to territorial marketing attests. Indeed, apart from an envelope common to all the provinces amounting to DH 182 million, the distribution of the remainder (DH 691 million) does not rule out the risk of widening spatial inequalities within the region. .

Errachidia and its 285 million DH (41.4%) therefore prances in the lead, followed by Midelt, whose main vocation is however agricultural, which captures 23% (160 million DH). Far behind comes Ouarzazate (86 million DH, or 12.4%), almost at the same level as the two cities of Zagora and Tinghir, to which respectively 81.5 million DH (11%) and 78 million DH ( 11.29%). “Territorial equity, one of the key principles of advanced regionalization is completely flouted”, laments an official who requests anonymity.

Second manifest inconsistency: the absence of a course, which contrasts with other development plans. “Currently, the bedding capacity of the Drâa-Tafilalet region is less than 7% compared to the overall volume recorded at the national level. Ditto for overnight stays, which only represent 2.28% in 2019. In the absence of a quantified target in terms of capacity, I think this rate will decline. And we can say goodbye to tourism ”, regrets Zoubir Bouhoute, expert in tourism. The other point that gives rise to misunderstanding is timing. “Why choose to come out with a tourism development plan before the PDR (regional development plan)”, asks Zoubir Bouhoute.

It must be said that the new plan aims to make the territory of Drâa-Tafilalet a flagship destination for ecotourism and sustainable development by focusing everything on “the desert and nature product which represents the centrality of its positioning”, but even if it means doing so. sometimes in excess. As evidenced by this golf project in the Sahara planned for 100 million DH which does not take into account the geographical specificities of a region with a Saharan climate and where the dunes are constantly moving. “It is in principle a clay golf course which has to move as well”, defends the president of the CRT.

Another dividing line created by this mega tourism plan is the 50% participation rate of the Moroccan Tourism Engineering Company (SMIT) in the Regional Management Company. “We are demanding a participation rate of 75%, or 25% for the SMIT. This is why we did not vote in favor of this motion, ”confides an advisor who attended the extraordinary session of the regional council, held last Tuesday.

The SMIT, which is moreover at the initiative of this plan, is perceived as a “disruptive element”. “The SMIT is shunned by most regions, and is trying it here. But it is in the end its reputation which suffers from it ”, launches on condition of anonymity this regional adviser.

Remember that after an analysis carried out in 2017 on the property assets and the financial situation of the SMIT, the Court of Auditors noted the very low rate of achievement of tourism capacities, limited to 7.8% and 2.7% respectively for Visions 2010 and 2020 (balance sheet closed at the end of 2015), i.e. a cumulative capacity of around 7,050 beds for the two visions out of a total objective of 128,530 beds!

Court of Audit

© Copyright: DR

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