The Green Room is a series of interviews that I conduct with fellow saltwater fanatics, including up-and-coming brands, surf world personalities and surf industry leaders. This particular interview is with Said Bella. Said is the co-founder and organiser of the first-ever Taghazout Surf Expo taking place in Morocco next week. According to Boardsportsource.com, this expo will host 37 brands from surf schools, specialised travel agencies, clothing, accessories and equipment manufacturers in a 4,000 m2 exhibition village.
Hi, Said. Thanks for joining me. Let’s start with the basics – who are you and what is your role within the Taghazout Surf Expo?
Hello and thank you for the welcome. I’m a native of Agadir and I grew up in the region lulled by the waves of the Atlantic. After years of experience organising events, I decided with one of my friends to create the Taghazout Surf Expo, which makes me the co-founder!
And the Taghazout Surf Expo itself; can you tell us exactly what it is and when it runs?
The Taghazout Surf Expo will be a platform for meetings and exchanges, and it’ll encourage the emergence of new ideas and development opportunities. It will also enhance the potential of the Moroccan coastline and increase the visibility of Taghazout and the region as a world-leading surfing destination. As for the exact location, it’ll be held at the iconic spot of Anchor Point in Taghazout from October 27th – 30th this year.
Epic. Is there a cost to visit the exhibition village for visitors or tourists?
No! The show is open to everyone free of charge no matter whether you’re an athlete, surf lover, professional in the surf industry or part of the general public.
Why have you chosen Taghazout as the location for this event?
Good question! As you might know, Taghazout is a small and isolated fishing village in the north of Agadir. The coastline is about 30 kilometres long and plays host to about twenty surf spots for all levels.
The most emblematic one, Anchor Point, began to attract surfers from all over the world in the 1970s. They came from the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Europe. And they chose the Moroccan Atlantic coast for its surfing conditions and to end their surf season.
With accessible spots all year long and attractive prices, this “hippie” world long remained a secret. It then ended up building an international reputation and encouraging the local population to try this new sport. Surf schools have since emerged, as well as specialised shops, surf camps and healthy restaurants.
Today, the surfing economy and tourism have taken primacy over fishing activities, ending up attracting huge promoters who have made Taghazout Bay the setting of a luxury seaside resort.
“We want to show that there is a whole economy to consolidate in the region and a social inclusion opportunity to enhance!”
Yep, I’m yet to visit Taghazout but I’ve only heard good things. Regarding the local surf community specifically though, how do you think this event will benefit them?
The idea is to offer and showcase a sector that is bubbling with vitality and creativity. And tell as many people as possible that there is an economy to consolidate and possible social inclusion opportunities available out there.
Moreover, the Moroccan National Tourism Office and the Regional Council of Tourism Agadir Souss Massa, which are our official partners, have well understood the potential positive impact of this expo on the region.
In the past 40 years, everything has changed and Taghazout is no longer a little fishing village. There is a whole ecosystem that has been created around surfing. What we want is to convince young Moroccans (from this region and elsewhere) that they can break into this sport without necessarily competing or becoming professionals.
There is so much to do!
Surfing is just the tip of the iceberg. And it’s one of the few sports that brings with it a whole culture based on unity with nature, well-being, yoga and healthy food.
Honestly, the surfing lifestyle offers many opportunities in very diverse fields and sectors: hotels, restaurants, transportation, coaching, equipment manufacturing, clothing and accessories, design, communication, the protection of the environment and culture.
There is even surf pop music now!
So positive! But tell me… was it difficult attaining permits to run the event or did everything flow quite smoothly?
This project attracted several public and private organisations, including the Moroccan National Tourist Office and the Tourism Agadir Souss Massa, which have followed us since our first meeting. For sure, there are still difficulties in administrative aspects, but the project is moving forward nicely!
Good to hear! And last but not least, how can people attend this event? What is the best airport to fly into to if I’m coming from overseas, accommodation options, etc?
Taghazout is reachable by public transport via Agadir and even from Marrakech. And as you know, there’s an international airport in the region (Al Massira airport in Agadir) which is connected by several international airports within Europe, the UK and the US. Regarding accommodation, all visitors will be able to find somewhere to stay that suits them.
Ok, good to know. Thanks again for your time, Said!