17 June 2017

Lesotho: Campaign Spotlights Domestic Tourism

BASOTHO have been urged to embrace domestic tourism as part of initiatives towards greater wealth distribution and growing the country's economy.

The call was made by the Lesotho Tourism Development Corporation (LTDC) who recently toured the Afriski Mountain Resort along with Lesotho Hotels and Hospitality Association (LHHA) members and their families as part of a campaign to market the country's tourist resorts to locals.

This was the first ever trip by LHHA officials to the tourist destination which is located in the mountains of Butha-Buthe district close to the northern border with South Africa.

Afriski Mountain Resort is an all year mountain adventure destination which offers several winter and summer activities including skiing, biking, bum boards, Eduro and snowboarding.

Domestic tourism has been identified as a market requiring further planning and development in order to reduce the tourism leakages resulting from locals choosing South African destinations for holidays.

LTDC Public Relations Officer, Molapo Matela told the Lesotho Times on the sidelines of Saturday's tour that domestic tourism not only helped retain money in the country but also helped redistribute income from urban to rural areas.

"With domestic tourism, the revenue is circulated in the country" Molapo said, adding, "Tourism has the potential to develop the country and create jobs for people around all places of interest".

For her part, LHHA representative, Marethabile Sekhibe said they had realised the importance of joining the domestic tourism campaign.

"It is important to be patriotic and visit Lesotho before visiting other countries.

"It is important that we start to know our country before going to other places and as LHHA, it will be easier to tell people about our tourist attractions if we have been there," Ms Sekhibe said.

She said the campaign was so important such that the hospitality industry recently began hosting their meetings in different hospitality establishments around the country.

"We now hold our meetings in different LHHA members' hospitality establishments where we get to explore places beforehand to show each other support."

She added that they settled for the Afriski resort as part of initiatives aimed at countering the stereotypical view of snow as a danger zone which had to be avoided when in fact, it had to be embraced and enjoyed because of the fun attached to it.

"Basotho are still stereotyped regarding snow; they are still negative instead of seeing it for the attraction which it is.

"Those responsible for unblocking roads should do their work effectively in order to promote rather than hinder the tourism business," she said, adding they would make it an annual culture to visit and explore places of interest in the country.

Meanwhile, Afriski resort representative, Heather Jean said that most people including South Africans had never seen snow, adding that their resort had a vibrant culture that was conducive to domestic tourism.

"Everything is an experience for our first timers, from seeing snow for the first time to learning to walk in ski boots.

"Most of our staff are Basotho and they have warmed this place up. They are the heart of this place," Ms Jeans said.

She hailed their relationship with LTDC and LHHA, saying it was "a gold mine" that had helped them with the marketing of the resort as well as introducing them to other places of interest.

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