2008: An Opportunity Arises for a Local Company
For many years, Amizmiz and the surrounding hills were visited by various tourists seeking to understand and experience the Berber way of life. They mainly came through foreign-owned tourism companies based largely out of Marrakech. While these companies did employ many Moroccans—even some locals—the vast majority of profits were ultimately taken out of the Amizmiz region that produced them. As a result, the beautiful land, culture, and people of the rural Berber villages were bringing greater wealth predominantly to those whose interests lay somewhere else.
In 2008, a foreign company catering to English-speaking tourists stopped operating in the Amizmiz region. This opened up an opportunity for a locally-based, Moroccan owned and operated company to be established—hence the birth of Berber Travel Adventures.
Today, our company is registered, owned, and run from the town of Amizmiz. We pride ourselves in being a local company that supports the economic, environmental, and social well-being of our area. To that topic we now turn.
Principles of Sustainable Tourism
At Berber Travel Adventures, we support the basic tenet of sustainable tourism: that foreign tourists do as little damage as possible to the environment and culture of an area while helping to generate income and opportunity for local people. Our contribution to this principle can be found in the following areas:
- Our company is owned and operated in the area where we work (ie. Amizmiz).
- All of our staff and business partners (ex. taxi drivers who provide transport) live in the local area.
- Profit from our business is returned to the area from which it was made through using local business for any needed supplies and through directing a portion of every excursion price to the Berber host families that our customers visit.
- We reduce our environmental impact by not operating our own fleet of vehicles. Our customers use the existing transport infrastructure in Morocco to travel from Marrakech to Amizmiz. This includes the "grand taxi" system or the option to use a public bus, for which we give clear instructions to customers who prefer that option.
- Our customers travel to villages by foot using the existing trails. This reduces our environmental "footprint" in the villages we visit.
- The average size of our tour groups is small, having less of an impact upon the plant and animal life than very large groups coming at once.
- All rubbish/waste produced during our excursions is disposed through proper channels, leaving no trace of our time in the hills.
- Our company encourages and celebrates the local Berber culture of the area. Indeed, that is precisely what we want our customers to encounter!
- We inform our customers, both before an excursion and during it, as to proper cultural norms regarding dress and behavior. We never intend their presence in the rural villages to be an unwelcome or negative experience for the inhabitants.
- We provide our customers resources online to learn more about the culture that they will be visiting and the language of the people they will encounter.