Ecotourism in mountainous areas, a niche provider of jobs and which remains unknown both by young people looking for a job and by the authorities who say they are “concerned about the professional integration of young people”.
This file focuses on the potential of the mountains to capture tourists but also on the gaze of the population exhausted by the confinement to the mountain, the only valve that remained to breathe clean air after the closure for weeks of infrastructure. leisure facilities in urban centers.
It should be remembered that International Mountain Day, celebrated each year on December 11, comes this year in a very particular context, due to the health crisis. The interest of many citizens in the mountains is not without consequences for the protection of fauna and flora. “Appropriate shoes, trekking poles, rucksacks… and above all a garbage bag” are tools for hikers concerned about protecting nature, believes Lotfi Mokrani, a mountain tourism professional who shared his experience with us.
Rare are those who call on mountain guides for assistance during their hikes, even when the weather looks grim: snowstorms, freezing cold, etc. While some are used to the places they frequent, others embark on the most intrepid adventures without realizing the risks they run.
The profession of guide, which has remained little known until then, particularly for mountain tourism, is needed more than ever for the promotion of tourism concerned with sustainable development. “Calling on local guides when organizing a hike or a guided tour in the middle of the mountains is one of the rules that respect responsible and solidarity tourism”, recommends Lotfi Mokrani, co-founder of the start-up Randonnée Events.
Why ? In the opinion of this tourism professional, soliciting a local guide facilitates access to tourist sites. Our interlocutor also considers the support of guides in the practice of the mountain as a niche that allows job creation. The local guide can also be a reliable source of information on the habits and customs of the region.
It makes it possible to “ensure the relevance of the information in relation to the stories and legends of the sites”, assures Mr. Mokrani. “The mountain is a difficult environment to explore in view of its rugged terrain and circuits, climate change, the heights where danger presents itself at any time”, he warns, thus suggesting to hikers to be accompanied by a professional local guide to avoid unpleasant surprises. Indeed, “for safety measures and in the event of an accident in the natural environment, the latter will be able to intervene and ask for help from the inhabitants of the nearest region”, he advises.
But are there really professional guides? In the opinion of this tourism professional, professional guides are sorely lacking. “The latter can be counted on the fingers of one hand in each wilaya and tourist region,” says Mr. Mokrani. “The problem that arises is the availability of guides and generally, we find the same people from the tourist industry, forest guards, ecologists and guests who are used to leading people in the mountains”, he points out. .
The training of guides is essential
Lotfi Mokrani calls for the training of mountain guides. Through training, the latter also targets other training related to this activity (first aid, tourism, entertainment, etc.) which are generally provided by the services of National Parks, tourist associations, tourism and craft departments and even institutes. public / private specialists in tourism. How is the mountain guide activity currently organized? “The activity in the mountain environment is organized in a formal and informal way”, indicates Mr. Mokrani, who deplores the little interest given by influential actors in the activity of tourism for the promotion of domestic tourism. .
And to stress: “Mountain activity is managed by state bodies such as (national parks, associations, clubs, etc.) and private (travel agencies). For the informal component, “mountain activity is now a real means of doing business to the detriment of promoting mountain tourism”, regrets this friend of nature.
On another component? our interlocutor reiterates that the activity of the assembly guide must respond to a certain professional logic including the choice of the destination, the location of the places, the identification and the choice of circuits, the development of a detailed program… as well as the establishment of other aspects related to local development through the promotion of mountain sports, crafts, local products, breeding, history and legends of mountainous areas.
While in the field, “groups of friends, amateurs and enthusiasts of tourism organize outings and getaways without taking the measures and ethical and logistical standards related to tourist activity in the mountains”, denounces Mr. Mokrani who emphasizes a disappointing reality. “We can no longer recognize the green of the grass, the green of bottles,” he warns.
By Djedjiga Rahmani