Post-Covid crisis exit: SMIT relies on Medinas

Through the promotion and improvement of the attractiveness of an exceptional tourist product in Marrakech, Essaouira, Fès, Meknes, Tangier, Tétouan, Salé and Ouarzazate

Promote and improve the tourist attractiveness of the Medinas. An objective on which the Moroccan Society of Tourism Engineering (SMIT) is looking. A program has been developed in this direction targeting the Medinas of Moroccan cities including Marrakech, Essaouira, Fez, Meknes, Tangier, Tétouan, Salé and Ouarzazate, and this in accordance with the tourism product development strategy of the SMIT materialized by the signature a “Mdinti” framework agreement in 2016 with local and central partners. The rehabilitation and enhancement of the Medinas would play a decisive role, particularly in this particular context. The Medinas under their new face want to be an exceptional tourist product in this way out of the crisis. “The realization of all the actions initiated by the SMIT will contribute to improving the level of attractiveness of these Medinas and thus increase the average length of stay of visitors and the rate of their return while ensuring better support for the revival and resumption of tourist activities after the Covid-19 ”, reports the SMIT.

The approach adopted, in this sense, is innovative and integrated. The idea being to offer a cognitive, playful and sensitive dimension to this heritage through “experiential clothing”. It is a question of creating thematic and coherent routes and itineraries and of networking the Medinas by establishing interconnections between them. The program also provides for the development of an authentic flagship accommodation product through the rehabilitation and restoration of certain traditional Moroccan residences allowing tourists to soak up the local culture. It should be noted that as part of the improvement of the attractiveness of the Medinas and in accordance with the High Royal Guidelines, several cities have been the subject of agreements for the realization of these programs of rehabilitation and enhancement of the old Medinas. Zoom on the various sites opened in the various Medinas of Morocco.

Medina of Marrakech changes its adornment

In the amount of 484 million DH, the program for the enhancement of the old Medina of Marrakech covering the period 2018-2021 tends to promote heritage assets, the requalification of the urban environment and the improvement of accessibility and intra-muros mobility. As regards actions with a tourist dimension, they relate to the proposal of a differentiated product by acting on the legibility of the offer, its diversity and its continuity. In this sense, we can cite directional and interpretive signage, terminals near historical sites and monuments, cultural facilities, reception and information, circuits, etc. The financial contribution of the SMIT amounts to 20 million DH. The company also provides technical support with a view to consolidating cultural mediation and tourist promotion systems for heritage assets in the Medina.

Improvement of the visitor route to the Medina of Essaouira

Several rehabilitation and restoration programs have been implemented for the Medina of Essaouira. Measures that have made it possible to upgrade its urban spaces, to rehabilitate its monuments and historic buildings as well as to provide it with a set of cultural facilities. Strengthening the tourist and economic attractiveness of the city is one of the main objectives of the complementary program for the requalification and enhancement of the Medina of Essaouira, the agreement of which was signed before the Sovereign in October 2018. Endowed with an investment of 300 million DH, with a contribution from the SMIT of the order of 17.5 million DH, this program provides for many actions to improve the visitor experience and create a better experience of discovery.

Medina of Fez: 1,197 sites to be rehabilitated by 2024

Two rehabilitation and enhancement programs for the Medina of Fez are currently being implemented. Backed by those already existing, they will diversify the offer of the Medina and communicate more about its tangible and intangible heritage. Note that the first program, covering the period 2018-2022, aims to strengthen the dynamics of restoration, rehabilitation and development through the rehabilitation and enhancement of 113 sites. The budget allocated for this purpose is 583 million DH with a contribution of 20 million DH from the SMIT. The second program concerns the enhancement of economic activities and improvement of the living environment in the Medina of Fez. The objectives set for 2024 aim, among other things, to improve the living conditions of the population and the requalification and rehabilitation of 1,197 sites through a global investment of 670 million DH.

Meknes, an emerging cultural destination

Listed as World Heritage by Unesco, the Medina of Meknes has new assets to enhance its tourist attractiveness. An envelope of 800 million DH, including 20 million DH allocated by the SMIT, is devoted to the restoration and rehabilitation of 54 sites of this architectural heritage, the improvement of accessibility and mobility within it and the strengthening of its tourist and economic attractiveness.

Thanks to this project, Meknes will consolidate its positioning as a flagship cultural destination and will thus encourage the installation of new private investments.

Medina of Tangier: 29 projects to be carried out in 4 years

With an investment of 850 million DH, the Medina of Tangier has an action plan covering the period 2020-2024. 29 structured projects are planned to improve the urban landscape, requalify the built heritage, upgrade places of worship and strengthen the tourist and economic attractiveness of the Medina.

SMIT’s participation in this project is estimated at 50 billion DH. The company contributes to this through the consolidation of cultural mediation systems and tourist promotion of heritage assets.

Tetouan’s tourist function strengthened thanks to its Medina

At the level of Tetouan, the complementary program of rehabilitation and enhancement of its Medina concluded in 2018 will breathe new life into the city for tourism. This program affects both the built environment, infrastructure and religious buildings.

It also relates to the development of socio-cultural services, the reorganization of shops and the promotion of tourist activities. According to the SMIT, all of these actions are likely to strengthen the tourist function and the attractiveness of this ancient fabric, thus contributing to the consolidation of tourist frequentation of the destination beyond the summer season.

Two tourist circuits to be developed in the Medina of Salé

900 million DH is the budget devoted to the seed plan dedicated to the Medina of Salé by 2023.

In addition to its contribution to the financing of this program to the tune of 20 million dirhams, the SMIT provides technical support to local partners for carrying out studies.

The goal is to strengthen the tourist attractiveness of Salé.

This involves the development of two tourist circuits in the Medina of Salé that the rehabilitation and enhancement of old buildings.

The tangible and intangible heritage of Ouarzazate valued

Ouarzazate’s tourism promotion program provides for the creation of thematic museum spaces, the development of places around the Kasbah of Taourirte as well as the tourist promotion of film activity through the creation of the “Al Fan” square or again the organization of a weekly carnival in the city around the theme of cinema.

Covering an investment of around 38 million DH, these actions will offer visitors to the city an experience of valuing the tangible and intangible heritage carried by the Ksours and Kasbahs.

The development of the Medinas will increase the tourist attractiveness of their cities

Interview with Imad Barrakad, Chairman of the SMIT Board of Directors

ALM: The SMIT is implementing a program dedicated to the Medinas. What are the specificities of this device?
Imad Barrakad: As part of advanced regionalization and with a view to developing the tourism product, the Moroccan Society of Tourism Engineering (SMIT) has undertaken, alongside its local and central partners, to carry out a program dedicated to the Medinas and to their development according to a global approach and integrated approach of urban renewal with a view to developing and exploiting their tourism potential. The implementation of these programs and their execution are carried out at the local level with, however, technical support from the SMIT focusing particularly on product engineering and assistance to local partners for the realization of studies and works inherent to tourism components.

What is the budget allocated to this program? And how is its financial package broken down?

The renovation and tourism enhancement of the old Medinas under way required an envelope of more than 10 billion dirhams. This amount was mobilized thanks to the participation and contribution of several ministerial, institutional and local authorities concerned, according to an annual program taking into account the progressive financing needs for the realization of the projects selected. SMIT provided more than 15% of the funding for this program.

Why the Medinas?

Home to a historical, urbanistic, architectural, cultural and social heritage, our Medinas represent an invaluable potential for the influence of Morocco and its cultural and heritage identity. Their development is likely to contribute to increasing the tourist attractiveness of their respective cities and destinations, as well as to enriching the offer and the tourist experience as a whole, especially to the attention of visitors in search of authenticity and cultural immersion, and this through the promotion of heritage assets, the improvement of the legibility of the offer through thematic circuits, as well as the development of various products marking out these itineraries, in this case the interpretation spaces, the entertainment structures, etc.

What role would the Medinas play in promoting Morocco’s tourism?

The visibility of the Medinas is already anchored in the brand image of the Morocco destination and their cultural and heritage value is recognized internationally, several of them being classified as World Heritage by Unesco. As a result, the rehabilitation of their old fabrics and heritage assets will undoubtedly participate in the development of the cultural offer of the destinations and therefore in the tourism promotion of Morocco in general.

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