A pearl in the Atlas Mountains: Chez Saadiya et Mustapha

Sustainable tourism
One of the objectives of the Switzerland-Morocco Sustainable Tourism Programme is to improve the quality of rural lodgings. This will result in more overnight stays and happier guests. However, quality not only encompasses lodgings, but also professional visitor management services.

Saadiya, whose name means “she who brings back luck” is pursuing her dream with a lot of commitment and tenacity. She wants to turn her lodging into a place that guests will remember.

“It all started with my stepfather, who fought for the French army. The Moroccan War Veterans Association filmed a documentary at our place. We became known after that, and in 2004 we opened our doors to visitors. Two years later I was fortunate to have my house mentioned in a backpacker guide. In 2011 I started the renovation work. Unfortunately, we were unable to keep it going because we did not have enough construction skills.

Fortunately, we were selected as a pilot lodging for the project. First, we analysed our needs. Together with the project manager, architect, and construction firm we then made the decisions for the renovation. We set up a partnership marked by mutual respect and trust on all sides.”

Which work was carried out?

“The sanitary facilities were completely renovated, and every room now has its own bathroom. The walls were lined with stones, matching the traditional architectural style. The large living room was renovated and is now used by guests as a dining room. The entryway was remade into a small reception area; today you feel welcome. Before, my guest house didn’t really ‘speak’, but now I can hear it.

The terraces were enlarged and arranged in such a way to give the guests a beautiful view over the whole valley. My greatest pride is the new, functional kitchen with a lot of storage room. I put a lot of value on my guests being well fed and feeling happy. I find that everything has become amazing and would like to thank all those working on the project from the bottom of my heart.

Now I have a good feeling that I’m running a proper guest house that meets the needs of the tourist.”

To the question of whether there were also difficult decisions to make, Saadiya replies: “We overcame all obstacles because I stayed focused on the objective. Everything went well, I greeted the masons and workers every day and cooked for them.”

In order to get project support, you had to contribute one-third of the costs for the guest house’s sanitary facilities. Was it difficult to make this contribution?

“It wasn’t easy, but I had to do it, because it is important to make a contribution yourself. The more you invest, the more you earn, and I hope to have a good season so that I get a return on my investment.”

Saadiya has an entrepreneurial spirit and says: “It’s just because I like being a host and for people to feel good at my place. I welcome and serve my clients from the bottom of my heart, and they wanted more comfort, so now I am providing this to them. My goal was always to make those who come to me happy.”

The Béni Mellal-Khénifra region is of strategic interest, due to its history and geographic position near the Atlas Mountains, its wealth of natural and historic sites, and spiritual heritage.

The Switzerland-Morocco Sustainable Tourism Programme: Swiss expertise for sustainable development of tourism.

The Switzerland-Morocco strategic partnership is helping to strengthen sustainable tourism in the   Beni Mellal-Khénifra region. The purpose of economic collaboration and development of the Swiss State Secretariat of Economic Affairs (SECO) in the tourism sector is to support development of the sustainable tourism value chain in our partner countries to strengthen the economy, create jobs, and fight poverty.

The programme is pursuing numerous objectives, working to improve the quality of lodgings in rural areas in consideration of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) and its internationally recognised sustainability criteria. In consideration of these criteria, the programme hopes to improve infrastructure and facilities at rural lodgings, as well as visitor reception management.

The programme is financed by SECO, with a national share of 12%.

2020 - 2024
Sustainable tourism
Switzerland-Morocco Sustainable Tourism Programme
The Swiss-Moroccan sustainable tourism programme aims to support the provinces of Azilal and Beni Mellal in developing sustainable tourism with integrated sectors in order to reduce poverty, create income and new jobs and improve existing jobs, particularly for young people and women.