Opening Times
Mon-Thursday 9am-6pm
Friday 9am-5pm
Saturday 9am-2pm
Bank Holidays 10am-4pm

Friday, 28 February 2014 12:00 AM

Sustainable Holidays in Morocco – What Is Sustainable Tourism?

The Moroccan Tourism Office awarded Naturally Morocco its 2009 Trophy for Responsible Tourism (International Category, Economic and Social Development theme).

The word “sustainable” (and related word "responsible") is a word that has been introduced into, and used by, many industries in the recent past and is often overused or misused.

Sustainable industries are those that can endure (or last) for a long time. In the case of tourism it specifically relates to attempts to have a low impact on the culture of the destination, positive long term impact on the destination’s economy and local employment and low impact on the environment as a whole.

Sustainable Tourism, Responsible Tourism & Eco Tourism

These are three terms that have many common elements and should not consume much of your time to differentiate.

Sustainable Tourism attempts to minimise the effect of tourism on the local culture and environment. Responsible Tourism aims to make places better to visit and for people to live in, i.e. tackling social, economic and environmental issues of a destination created by tourism. Sound similar? – they are - Sustainable Tourism and Responsible Tourism have generally the same goals, but Responsible Tourism places the emphasis on the traveller (their behaviour) whilst Sustainable Tourism places the onus on the provider of the holiday. Think it is rather a semantic difference? I agree.

However, Ecotourism focusses on educating travellers and ecological conservation.   This is a little different from Sustainable or Responsible Tourism, and a number of niche businesses work in this area - La Maison Anglaise was voted one of the top 10 eco-stays for 2014 by the Lonely Planet.

Tourism Can Rarely Be Wholly Sustainable

The term Sustainable Tourism is almost an oxymoron – any tourism that requires transportation (especially flights, which are widely believed to contribute to global warming) and the higher than normal use of other resources (especially where resources are scarce, e.g. water) cannot be deemed to be low impact for the environment.

However, this issue is largely ignored in the marketing of Sustainable Tourism. It is argued that any attempts to minimise the impact of tourism on the environment, whilst working with local populations to ensure that they receive long term economic benefit from tourism, is a good thing and should be encouraged regardless of its effect on global warming – and it is this that Sustainable Tourism strives to do.

Sustainable Tourism – the Goals

Therefore, the goals of Sustainable Tourism are to:

  • Educate tourists of cultural, economic and political issues – so that these can be respected and understanding enhanced;
  • Favour local peoples for employment and to ensure fair employment conditions – so that long term economic benefit is derived by local individuals;
  • Use local businesses for the provision of goods and services and to ensure those businesses support traditional values – so that economic benefit is derived locally; and
  • Encourage the conservation of resources – so that natural resources are preserved as far as possible.

Whilst the driving force for such efforts may be the tour operator, and may be assisted by the efforts of local businesses, tourists also have a huge role to play in this area (the “responsible tourist”).

What Does This Mean In Practice in Naturally Morocco?

Naturally Morocco is an award winner in Responsible Tourism – In 2009 the Moroccan Tourism Office awarded us the Trophy for Responsible Tourism (International Category, Economic and Social Development)

Day to day we promote sustainable and responsible tourism. Specifically this includes:

  • Encouraging our guests to respect Moroccan culture and understand the effect of their holidaying on Morocco (e.g. use of the generally scarce water resource);
  • Using local employees and, in Morocco, encourage the fair employment of Moroccans by our suppliers (e.g. fair rates of pay and time-off); and
  • Working with suppliers to minimise the use of scarce resources (e.g. water) and carbon neutral technologies (e.g. solar water heating).

We also offer guests the carbon offset of flights by means of a voluntary contribution.

Our full list of our credentials in this area and about our award for responsible tourism.