Morocco’s unique location on the Mediterranean and it’s easy to access point to both the African and European continents have resulted in a recent tourism boom over the past decade. The location along with the combination of eco-friendly, sustainable and responsible travel options have made Morocco a Green Key destination for a growing number of visitors looking for the ideal vacation destination.
The Moroccan Tourism observatory recorded a 10% jump in tourism from 2017, with nearly 5.1 million visitors in the first half of 2018. Morocco’s King Mohammed VI continues to make strides so that the kingdom is a safer and more relaxing country to travel in.
Mohammed VI is working to position Morocco as Africa’s cultural hub.
Recent news reports in Morocco support the growth in tourism with the scheduled 2020 spring opening of Casablanca’s Grand Theatre, the launch of the TGV, the creation of Africa’s first high-speed train from Tangier to Casablanca, and several conferences and forums in Rabat, Casablanca, and Dakhla. All of the Kingdom’s efforts have the aim to help small businesses, entrepreneurs and artisans.
Other observable changes in Morocco are its effort to be involved in the sustainable tourism and development movement. Morocco announced significant renewable energy goals set at 42% by 2020 and aims to set the trend for Africa’s clean energy goals. These actions are all in alignment with Morocco’s Green Key Label (Clef Verte), a voluntary eco – international title that allows Morocco’s hotels and riads to be recognized as part of environmental responsibility and sustainable operations within the tourism industry.
The Green Key labeled establishments agree to uphold the strict criteria the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) requires. Part of the requirement for those labeled with the “Green Key” is to stay certified, be prepared for frequent audits, and make sure guests are experiencing the value of staying in an environmentally conscious accommodation.
The Green Key Morocco Experience
Staying at a Green Key establishment in Morocco is unique. Each operation does it’s best to enrich your experience by educating you on the measures they take to ensure your stay is aligned with eco-tourism. Staff are also well trained and informed in the fields of environmentally friendly and sustainable practices. Each property also has its own way to lower the use of energy, water, and waste. The properties in Morocco also work with guests, staff and suppliers to create the behavioral changes necessary to promote and uphold the Green Key Label; accommodations are checked for proper behavior and regulations by a jury from the Moroccan Ministry of Health, Ministry of Tourism/Tourism Association, Association of local authorities, Association of hotels/campsites Education experts, and Environmental experts.
Morocco’s Green Key Winners
As of 2017, there were 84 tourist accommodations recognized in Morocco with the Green Key label (Le Clef Verte) and these establishments include five-star hotels, guesthouses, club villages, and inns. Globally, there has been a shift in consumer desire to leave a smaller carbon footprint while traveling. These days, travelers visiting Morocco have the option of organizing their itinerary so their trip will include staying at Green Key certified lodging.
From Northern Morocco to the grand Sahara Desert region you will find accommodations with the Green Key label. All of Morocco’s Imperial Cities have Green Key certified accommodations. Marrakech leads with 28, followed by Casablanca (6), Rabat (3), and Fes (4). Morocco’s coastal town of Essaouira has 1 Green Key property and Agadir has 10 ranging from a surf lodge and spa to riads, and kasbah hotels. The Sahara desert region’s city of Ouarzazate referred to as the Hollywood of Morocco, and the nearby palmeraie of Skoura, and the town of Zagora, all have wonderful boutique kasbah hotels and guest houses with Green Key eco-lodge certifications.
Green Key Hotel & Eco Lodge Winners
Tangier – Hilton City Center
Casablanca – Hyatt Regency
Meknes – Ibis Moussifir
Fes – Ryad Mabrouka
Beni Melllal – Touda
Ifrane – Hotle Michlifin
Agadir – Paradise Lodge Surf , Yoga & Spa Resort
Tarodaunt – Dar el Hassoun
Marrakech – La Mamounia Hotel
Ouarzazate – Dar Bladi
Tinjdad – El Khorbat
Tata – Dar Infiane
Tahanout – Terre D’Amanar
Zagora – Kasbah Azul
Essaouira – Heure Bleue Palais
El Jadida – Mazagan Beach & Golf Resort
History of Green Key (Le Clef Vert) In Morocco
The Green Key (Le Clef Verte) program originated for hotels in Denmark in 1994 and in the year of 2003 became an environmental education program (FEE). Since then it has become the standard label in eco-tourism and adopted by countries in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and the Caribbean; it is supported by the United Nations Environment Programme and the World Tourism Organization. Green Key is managed internationally by FEE, a nongovernmental, non-profit organization that promotes environmental education throughout 40 countries. The Green Key label was introduced to Morocco in 2008 by the Mohammed VI Foundation for Environmental Protection.
To have Morocco participate in the movement it underwent steps to enroll as a National NGO member of FEE, establish a Green Key National Jury, and develop management procedures. The purpose of the label is to confirm that a touristic establishment’s managers, employees, and hotel practices support ecotourism goals. From 2016, there were 56 countries recognized as part of the Green Key movement with 2,700 labels recorded.
Additionally, Green Key is the organization that provides regional seminars to raise awareness on eco-tourism, manage and develop the labels on a national level, and ensure coordination on an international level. Green Key also takes responsibility for managing sustainable tourism in the International Biosphere Reserve Mediterranean in the North, the Dakhla Lagoon or the Palm Grove of Marrakech.
Staying At A Green Key – Eco Lodges, Accommodations in Morocco
Green Key accommodations in Morocco are available to enjoy in various price ranges. From bunk bed hostels to five-star luxury hotels. Green Key has created agreements with a number of partners throughout the country’s 12 regions; travelers to Morocco do not need to compromise on luxury or comfort. There are many behind the scene sustainable actions that have been seamlessly integrated into a Green Key place, therefore, you may not even notice that you are contributing to supporting sustainability. Examples include water saving shower heads that maintain high water pressure, dimmable LED light bulbs, and locally sourced, bio, or fair trade food, beverage or hygiene products.
The Green Key Difference
Moroccan properties awarded the Green Key get it for one year at a time. It is routinely checked by an independent jury of experts and tourism and environmental professionals for 92 criteria that concern both environmental education and sustainable development.
Criteria categories include environmental management, the involvement of staff, guests, and suppliers; customer information, water management, cleaning and washing, waste, energy saving, beverage and food, and open spaces (indoor environment, parks, parking area) social responsibility of the institution, green activities, and administration. The representatives of the Green Key National Jury are from the Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Tourism/Tourism Association of local authorities, Association of hotels/campsites, Education experts, Environmental experts.
Environmental Management & Involvement of Staff
Among the mandatory criteria to receive a Green Key eco-label, hotel management must appoint a staff member to be the environmental officer and give them an official title and duties related to promoting eco-tourism. Before a key is obtained, team training on environmental issues is given. Staff must be prepared to answer customer questions about the Green Key Label, environmental activities, and how the hotel or riad is involved in eco-tourism.
Inside the hotel, there must be clear signage for all customers and employees to understand the hotel’s environmental policies and energy and water savings information; documentation for employees should be available to review at will. Furthermore, a hotel’s website must inform customers about its environmental policies, objectives, and encourage customers to participate in the Green Key initiatives.
Green Key initiatives with regards to the use of towels and sheets are also introduced to housekeeping. Ideally, each hotel will be actively collaborating with local partners, authorities, and associations to work together and promote the protection of the environment.
Water, Waste, & Energy Saving
Water is a precious resource and Green Key encourages it’s member hotel and riads to manage it wisely. Once a month a Green Key establishment must record its monthly consumption of water ( swimming pool, kitchen, watering of plants) and at the end of the year, a comparative assessment is required. As a general theme, Green Key encourages its hotels and riads to consume as little water as possible. Mandatory water regulation rules include new toilets should not use more than six liters per flush, the water flow of most hotel room faucets should not exceed 8 liters per minute, rooms should be regularly checked for overflowing and leakages and instructions for saving water and energy should be provided. Hotels are also encouraged but not required to measure their carbon footprint through a CO2 measurement tool and be transparent with information on environmental and socio-economic performance.
Green Key Local & Sustainability Development Goals
There are many eco-lodges and guest house accommodations throughout Morocco, however, what sets the Green Key properties apart is their commitment to promoting responsible tourism. The ultimate goal of the Green Key foundation is to support the local ecosystem by including the locals in the tourism economy and paying a wage that supports a reasonable employment condition. Guests who stay at Green Key accommodations are also happy to learn that establishment does its best to extend a standard of excellence in the sustainable field by guiding tourism establishments to participate in their 17 Sustainable Development Goals set by the UN.