If you can stay in a rajah's palace in Rajasthan, then why not a kasbah in Morocco?
The answer is, quite simply, that Morocco's kasbahs are mostly falling into disrepair and are not fit for tourists to stay in. Enter a new company for the restoration of kasbahs, known as SMVK, which held its first board meeting on 10 June in Ouarzazate.
Yacout reports that in the first phase, a dozen kasbahs will be restored and transformed into tourist facilities. SMVK is a new model of private/public partnership, and will concentrate at first on the Souss-Massa-Draa region.
"Morocco has hundreds of kasbahs some of which are in a state of disrepair", said Yassir Zenagui, Minister of Tourism. "The government cannot restore them. That's why we created the program to upgrade tourism within a framework of public-private partnership," he explained.
The SMVK has already called for expressions of interest. The owners of kasbahs have until 21 June to make contact with the new company. Interested individuals must submit a data sheet detailing the characteristics of their kasbah in terms of historical value, location and interaction with their environment. The Interior Ministry also has plans for the kasbahs which are under its supervision such as Ben Zouli, Tinzouline, Tamdakht El Goumt and Taourirt.
Several partnership options are being considered. Owners can either sell their kasbah, or rent them, or even propose a partnership with SMVK. The whole procedure is intended to have transparency, which the minister says is assured under this guardianship. Tourism establishments that will be created within the kasbah will be administered by specialised management companies such as the large hotel chains.
It's felt that this renovation programme of national heritage will generate economic activity on a regional level. It will create sustainable jobs and improve the marketing of local products. For the first phase of the project, a budget of Dh400 million will be unlocked. But the goal for the initiators of the project is to create a snowball effect. It is hoped that other investors will join the project.