The province of Al Haouz in the region of Marrakech Asfi spreads over some 6,212 km2, and has a varied geographical territory of a plain which bears the same name. With mountain ranges whose altitudes vary between 1,000 and 4,165 m, Mount Toubkal has the highest peak in Morocco, plateaus, and hills. Covering a large area of the hinterland of Marrakech, the Kingdom's flagship tourist destination, Al Haouz stands out more than ever. It is an undeniable "reservoir" of rich and varied tourist potential with considerable assets to allow a safe take-off of tourist activity, in particular rural and mountain tourism. The assets of this part of the national territory include a strategic geographical position, a temperate climate, splendid natural landscapes (valleys, rivers, waterfalls, lakes, historical and archaeological sites), as well as authentic and secular craftsmanship, in addition to ancestral traditions (simplicity and generosity of the natives). These factors among others were quick to impose Al Haouz as an essential stopover in the various circuits and excursions offered to visitors from the city of Marrakech.
Al Haouz is a Marrakech tourist breather
The province of Al Haouz takes full advantage of its proximity to Marrakech. It has an authentic urban fabric and ancestral heritage. The existence of a tourist map to identify the main tourist routes, historical monuments and summer areas to visit is also helpful. Al Haouz is also an essential destination for the practice of many sports activities. Thanks to the multiple sites available, activities such as hunting, fishing, hiking, skiing, mountaineering, paragliding, bicycles, quads, or even swimming in the delta are possible. On the cultural and spiritual level, Al Haouz has a significant number of Zaouia, mausoleums, Koranic schools and worship sites. Judaic worship sites, like the mausoleums of Mly Ighi in the rural town of Zerkten, Rabi Habib Mazrahi (rural commune of Ait Faska), Belhanch in the rural commune of Ourika, or even Rabi Haim Ben Diouane in the rural commune of Ouirgane are also a major attraction. From a historical point of view, the province conceals a large number of historical monuments. These include the rock engravings on the Yagour plateau in the communes of Tighdouine, the mosque of Tinmel (commune of Talat'N 'Yacoub), the mausoleum of Mouâatamid Ibn Abad (commune of Ghmat), in addition to a series of Kasbahs, like that of Oumnas, El Goundafi, and Tamadot or the Hammam (thermal bath) of Ghmat.
The tourist projects in Al Houaz are increasing
The number of projects increased from two in 2020, with 466 jobs, to nine in 2021 with some 1,517 jobs. Later this expanded to eleven projects in 2022 (942 jobs), according to figures from the Provincial Council of Tourism of Al Haouz. In 2023, the province of Al Haouz is experiencing the ongoing realization of eight tourism projects, with 94 new jobs.
Several rural municipalities in the province will realize in the future the implementation of very important tourist projects, like the development and upgrading project of the Ski Resort of Oukaïmeden. Rural tourism remains a promising niche to contribute to the development of the province of Al Haouz, and a considerable effort is being made to strengthen and diversify the tourism infrastructure in the province. In figures, Al Haouz has a bed capacity of 5,839 beds, offered by 148 tourist and hotel establishments, which corresponds to some 2,531 rooms. The province has a number of accommodation establishments classified in different categories, in addition to cottages, inns, pensions, etc.
A great effort is being made to upgrade all of these infrastructures and to present a global quality product that can respond satisfactorily to the request in this regard. Thanks to the National Initiative for Human Development (INDH), several accommodation units have been created, fitted out and equipped, while taking into account local architectural specificities. The purpose is to strengthen the tourist offer and preserve this local character.
Given the importance of making the tangible and intangible heritage of the area, the provincial authorities, in coordination with other partners hardly skimp on the means, and have set up a rich agenda of events and festivals. The spiritual meetings of Moulay Brahim, the socio-cultural festival of Amezmiz, the Festival of Crafts in Tahanaout, the Moonfest Festival in Lalla Takerkoust, and the Walnut Festival in Asni are some examples.
Al Haouz tourism problems and solutions
The constraints that weigh down the development of the tourism sector in Al Haouz result from the insufficiency of the necessary basic infrastructure and equipment, the absence of a representation of the Ministry of Tourism at the provincial level, and the absence of a training centre for mountain trades. Additionally, the need to work more on promotion and communication around this destination is apparent. In order to further develop the tourism sector in the province, it is insufficient to only promote and encourage the execution of staff training programs and local skills in areas related to the tourism sector without developing tourism studies.
The other solution to develop the tourism sector is the creation of a museum. The museum will highlight the documentation and the art reflecting the singularity of the history and civilization of this province. Additionally, it will show the openness and the development of trails and tourist circuits, and the enhancement of cultural and historical heritage. It will also carry out studies on the promotion and enhancement of collective memory. The strengthening of sports and basic infrastructures is also important. It would also be wise to ensure the encouragement of income-generating tourist micro-projects. These include the development of a local tourist product based on mountain tourism, and the creation of craft complexes bringing together the various professions and specialized activities. The promotion of the effective commitment of professionals and other stakeholders is essential for the development of the sector.