Abdallah Eljout: “The future of tourism in Chefchaouen lies in the mountains”
Interview with Abdallah Eljout, tourism consultant and director of the “House of economic initiatives and professional integration” program
In this interview, Abdallah Eljout, tourism consultant and director of the “House of Economic Initiatives and Professional Integration” program, talks about the objectives of the homestay accommodation project in the mountains of Chefchaouen.
ALM: Could you present the concept of accommodation with residents?
Abdallah Eljout: The idea of the bed and breakfast project or the stay with the inhabitants is innovative in the local context. It is a component of the training program for mountain guides entitled “House of economic initiatives and professional integration” which is carried out by the Association for the support of the community-based rehabilitation program (RBC) with the help of Local NGOs and support from the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) and the British Council. The objective is to encourage and help the inhabitants of mountain and neighboring localities to create guest rooms and thus contribute to the development of rural tourist accommodation. This type of reception is becoming more and more popular, particularly during this health crisis linked to the Covid-19 pandemic in the region. This will make it possible to contribute to the development of other forms of alternative tourism such as ecotourism, mountain tourism or sustainable tourism.
What are the stages of the realization of this project?
We are planning the launch of four guest rooms for the benefit of four families in the province of Chefchaouen, known for their natural sites as well as their local products and crafts. This project allows project leaders to benefit from training in homestay occupations and individualized support with a view to improving the quality of services and the situation of the people selected, with management modules on the menu and personal development. The launch of electronic communication campaigns is also planned to increase awareness of this type of accommodation. In addition to supporting project leaders for the creation of their lodges, we provide training for young mountain guides from the various municipalities of the province, within the framework of this program.
What do you think are the prospects for the development of rural tourism in the province?
We note that mountain tourism continues to establish itself as an engine of development and job creation in the region. It helps to diversify the offer and strengthen the attractiveness of the destination, which will have to be reckoned with in the future. Moreover, the mountainous areas in the province are full of tourist potential, but they are still under-exploited. We will have to review things according to a new logic; because the future of tourism passes through the mountains in the region of Tangier-Tétouan-Al Hoceima, which is distinguished by the panoramic view of its various peaks such as Afechtal, Tizirane, Taloussisse, Bouhachem, Tidghine and Tissouka.
How do you explain this visitor’s enthusiasm for mountainous destinations during this winter period?
The health crisis has had a devastating effect on tourism around the world and Chefchaouen has not escaped this sad reality. But it must be recognized that this period of pandemic was a catalyst for the local population and visitors to the city and surrounding areas to discover the central Rif. We have seen a real craze for the mountains during these recent snowy days. And we are witnessing locally an awareness of the interest shown in the mountains as a popular destination and priority in the choices of visitors.