Zineb Atlas

Where: Oaurzazate, Marocco

Who: Desert Montagne

2stars Atlas women are equally occupied in the ten villages visited, in the Riad and in the offices, working with ZIned

“We need to create a label that identifies those countries that respect women, a responsible network between the regions of Maghreb, Haute Atlas, Berber and all the other countries!” So exclaimed Zineb Boutkhoum from the platform at the First Moroccan Day of Responsible Tourism. She is the first female tour guide in Morocco and personally has dozens of fans among the tourists who seek her out for trekking. As says her husband Jean Pierre: “It's the extra details that make a difference, with a female guide as your Atlas.”

And in fact Zineb guides tours for families, or with the shepherds during the transhumance, or to the cities and oases, but her favourites are trekking with other women in the valleys where she originated. “In the valleys of Alt Bougmez and Alt Boulie”, Zineb tells us, “during a journey of 4 to 10 days, we pass through about ten villages and we meet lots of women, sometimes even 4 from the same family. We cook together and in Iririne there's one who makes carpets and the others help her, and when I arrive with groups of 10 or 20 tourists they show us the carpets and ask us for medicines. They know that if they're ill, I help them, I talk to them about contraception, we compare our cultures with the travellers and if there's a childbirth we take part in the ceremony.” On both sides the cultural exchange and the friendship that forms are certainly important, as Amina says to Alt Bougmez: “For me the travellers are my family as well as my guests.” Zineb loves to cook and often in the homes that the women prepare for the arrival of the foreign visitors they gather herbs, they mix spices and recipes from the towns and countryside of the Berber world and they improvise cookery courses with a final banquet.

The starting point of the tour is the Dar Daïf casbah, a “maison d'hote” with a hammam and a gourmet menu, 5 kms from Ouarzazate, a luxury caravanserai built by Zineb and her husband Jean Pierre Datcharry, forerunners in the promotion of local produce with respect for the environment, energy, development, decent wages and culture. Their ethical commitments have brought a string of prizes and trophies, the last in order of time the Prix Public des Trophées du Tourisme Responsable, won by their governing tour operator Desert Montagne on the Journée Marocaine du Tourism Durable et Responsable, held in Rabat on March 20th 2017.

In Morocco responsible tourism is important: in 2016 in Rabat the Tourism Durable document was signed. This covers three priorities: protection of culture, biodiversity, property, environment; respect for the communities and for local development; and finally adopting the principles of ethical fairness and social responsibility. This strategy has also been included in the rules of conduct of the COP 22 which was hosted in Rabat in November 2016.

On the same track, prizes for sustainable projects have also been launched in Morocco: they are called Trophées Maroc du Tourisme Durable and they are awarded every year to the best environmental projects: the last winners in 2017 were the Hotel Royal Monsour and Villa Janna, one a very elegant 5 star hotel in the centre and the other a very elegant eco-lodge 8 kms from Marrakesh.



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