After a period of drastic travel restrictions imposed by the spread of the coronavirus, the craze for a “better life” is palpable among Moroccans, eager to explore new original destinations and rich in their heritage. This is the case of Taghazout, a fishing village located on the Atlantic coast of the Kingdom, a few kilometers from Agadir and renowned for its sapphire-colored beaches. The place is prized not only by professionals and amateurs of surfing but also by enthusiasts of cultural tourism for its potentialities which still remain to be discovered and, above all, to be valued.
Overlooked by the mountains of Ait Bihi, whose calm is broken only by the chirping of birds and, from time to time, the braying of donkeys, Taghazout is separated from the rural commune of Aourir by a majestic course of water spanned by the Oued Tamraght bridge.
This small town is home to the Bab Taghazout cultural center, a new cultural device in a rural environment with sober architecture, open to visitors from Taghazout but also from Agadir and its surroundings.
A large door reflecting the raw beauty and architectural singularity of the Souss region adorns Bab Taghazout which is full of sculptures, paintings, ceramics, pottery, carpets and Amazigh decorations in addition to the famous beauty products extracted from Argan oil.
To visit Bab Taghazout is to dive into this Berber way of life which is a key component of the rich ancestral culture of Morocco, and which appeals to locals and foreigners alike. Driven by the desire to live an original and exotic travel experience, they choose this part of the Kingdom for their holidays, thus participating in the revitalization of tourist activity and the safeguarding of local heritage.
This is the case of Martine Mimmas, a Parisian who decided to take the plunge and open two stores in the Bab Taghazout center. The first specializes in making jewelry from shells and natural pearls, collected from the beaches of the region, including Taghazout and Imourane, while the second store offers a wide variety of teas for sale to taste on site. “Settled in Morocco for four years, my husband and I opened our first handicraft store here in December 2021,” Mimmas said in a statement to MAP.
“This project aimed at promoting the know-how of the Souss region was developed in collaboration with local craftsmen as well as with a women’s cooperative for the manufacture of several products such as small pouches, beach bags and shoes. “, she explains.
Referring to the change in the profile of tourists that Taghazout receives, this French retiree believes that with the Covid, tourist habits have changed, inviting a rediscovery of the history and the natural and cultural wealth of Morocco.
“With the onset of the pandemic, traveler habits have changed to take a closer interest in chic products inspired by Moroccan knowledge”.
For Ms. Mimas, Taghazout has been able to keep all its charm and uniqueness and thus stand out from competing destinations that compete in assets and offers to attract wealthy customers.
In the same spirit, Cihad Macar, a Turkish student based in Dublin, says that the authenticity of Taghazout and its reputation as a global destination for surfing and yoga led him to choose Morocco for his first post- Covid.
“I was captivated by the beauty of the surrounding nature and especially by the culinary culture of the Souss region,” he confided to MAP. Far from mass tourism, Taghazout is the showcase for a new tourist product that is more sustainable and more suited to current environmental, economic and geopolitical challenges.
If cultural tourism in Taghazout is gradually taking off, other destinations are waiting to be discovered and promoted nationally and internationally. The need is felt for the multiplication of artistic events, museums and other cultural infrastructures, to celebrate and enhance the local heritage of each of the regions of Morocco, so as to put culture at the service of the long-awaited tourist revival.
MAP / Sofia El Aouni