This is a 6-part series on rural tourism in Southern Morocco, told through members of the newly formed rural tourism association, Réseau de Développement Touristique Rural (RDTR), located in the Souss Massa Draa Region in Southern Morocco. Previous posts: Part I.
We met Amina at our hotel. As soon as we caught sight of her graceful and purposeful approach from her 4 WD, we knew we were meeting someone special. Dressed head-to-toe in black with matching sunglasses, her cell phone in hand, she was ready to get down to business. Her colleagues say, “Amina has the capability of 100 men.” In the short hour from our hotel to her guesthouse and wellness center in the province of Tiznit only one hour south of Agadir, we knew without a doubt the truth in that statement.Amina is a woman who goes after what she wants. Her career in tourism began in 1986, when she became one of the first female tourist drivers, then guide in Morocco. She speaks Berber, Arabic, German, and French. Over the years, she has launched a successful transportation company, wellness centers (with traditional Moroccan hammans and massage), and cultural guesthouses.
Her latest endeavor, Riad Assounfou, builds on the successes of her previous businesses. The riad posed a couple of new ventures; one is a full service traditional Moroccan restaurant complete with lively cultural entertainment. As we walked through the crowded restaurant it was clear that she had successfully navigated the first venture. The second challenge was the development of the resort. As we strolled through development site of the resort, Amina, shared with us her vision and ideas for the space. What she did not share was the litany of challenges she has had to face as a woman directing men in the building of her resort. This was shared to us by the men that have come to deeply respect her vision and strength through years of working with Amina. It is the strength, passion and humor of her convictions, along with her consistently fair business interactions, that allowed her to overcome the initial lack of respect the riad’s construction crew initially showed.
The riad will be open shortly for individual to large group events such as corporate retreats, weddings, and family reunions. The accommodations are traditional Moroccan, an oasis set in the mini dunes. The resort offers many tourist packages including spa and desert lifestyle experiences and trips to Souss Massa Draa National Park.
To learn more about Riad Assounfou, visit http://www.riadassounfou.com/