Promoting tourism: An opportunity for rural areas

Project description

Title: Sustainable tourism for employment and income generation in rural areas
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Morocco
Lead executing agency: Moroccan High Commission for Water and Forests and the Fight against Desertification (HCEFLCD)
Overall term: 2015 to 2020


Unemployment and a lack of job opportunities in rural areas are among the biggest problems facing Morocco. An estimated 18 per cent of the population is considered poor. Consequently, ever-increasing numbers of young people are migrating to urban centres. Women in rural regions have little education and are rarely in regular employment.

Jobs are needed in the interests of a stable social and political environment and for economic prosperity. In the coastal region of Souss Massa and the mountainous region of Béni Mellal-Khénifra (High Atlas), the local population draws little benefit from the existing use of natural and cultural resources for tourism. The quality, environmental compatibility, variety and marketing of available offerings are inadequate.

As part of the Vision 2020 agenda Morocco is planning broader economic development and decentralisation. Tourism is one way of creating economic growth and simultaneously creating new jobs in rural regions. The aim is to tap into the hitherto unexploited potential of diverse natural landscapes and cultural attractions through nature-based tourism.


Rural and vulnerable groups benefit from the use of natural and cultural resources for tourism in the two pilot regions of Souss Massa and Beni Mellal-Khénifra.


The project promotes capacity development for public and private partners. The project activities are spearheaded by the executing agencies: the High Commission for Water and Forests and the Fight against Desertification (HCEFLCD) and the Ministry of Tourism.

Tourism entrepreneurs and start-ups receive advice on developing tour packages. In four trial areas, local and regional actors are conducting integrated destination management based on a cooperation model. The aim is to ensure tourism with a low impact on the natural and cultural resources. The project also supports training for young people and women for the tourism industry. Basic and advanced training for direct employment by tourism companies and local product delivery chains, for hotels and visitors is also planned.

The project is supporting the development of four new tourist accommodations and eight restaurants, as well as promoting innovative tourism offerings, climbing and fishing, birdwatching, trekking canyoning and hiking.
Thanks to its success, the project is contributing to socio-economic development in four destination areas and combating rural exodus. The project’s strategy for creating jobs and securing or raising income for the rural population is posting significant and lasting results relatively rapidly.


The project first of all identified and assessed value chains. Importance was placed on tourism offerings, natural products and services in which value creation and income actually remain in the destination region and do not flow into the metropolises or abroad via major tour operators. The large number of women involved also deserves special mention.

  • So far, more than 1,700 people in the rural regions of the project have improved and secured their jobs and/or income in tourism and value chains.
  • More than 1,200 of these were women.Over 428 people have found new or extended employment thanks to tourism.
  • There has been a significant improvement in working conditions and wages for 730 people, including 562 women, in the tourism sector.
  • 175 people have found new employment in inland aquaculture. An eco-friendly aquaculture plant generates income by processing fish and selling it to the catering industry.

Additional information