THE government is mulling the introduction of entrance fees to one of the country’s premier attractions, the Maletsunyane Falls as part of efforts to further develop one of country’s premier tourist resorts to attract more domestic and international visitors.
This was revealed by Lesotho Tourism Development Corporation (LTDC)’s Head of Strategic Marketing, Tebello Thoola, at a community gathering at Semonkong Stadium to create awareness of the World Tourism Day which will be celebrated locally in Semonkong in 27 September this year.
Mr Thoola said this in response to one of the community members, Makabbelo Monoto, who had complained about government’s failure to develop the falls despite the high volumes of tourists it attracted annually.
Maletsunyane Falls is one of the highest single dropping waterfalls in Africa and it creates a haze of smoke as the water plummets 186 metres into a spectacular gorge.
Ms Monoto said despite the fact that the falls were internationally recognised and attracted many local and foreign visitors, this did not translate to tangible benefits to the locals.
In his response, Mr Thoola said there were plans to further develop the falls and this would also entail charging entry fees as was the norm with tourist attractions in other countries.
Mr Thoola said the Semonkong Community had a “diamond” in their hands and it was time they started benefiting from it.
“As we will be celebrating the World Tourism Day under the theme, ‘Sustainable Tourism, a tool for development’, we want to make sure that the community benefits from tourism,” Mr Thoola said.
He said as the theme suggested, the community should strive to come up with sustainable businesses to enable them to benefit from tourist arrivals.
“The theme says we have to protect our natural resources such as the Maletsunyane Falls and rock paintings and keep them in good shape for tourists who wish to come and see them.
“Tourists bring a lot of money to Lesotho and it is time Basotho start benefiting. We would like locals to start organisations and come together to figure out different ways in which they can benefit,” he said, adding that they have to ensure that tourists always found a clean and conducive place whenever they visited.
World Tourism Day is commemorated annually around the world in an effort to raise awareness on the role of tourism within the international community and to demonstrate how it affects social, cultural, political and economic values worldwide.
Mr Thoola said they decided to host the commemorations in Semonkong because they were aware of the community’s tourism sustainability model including activities such as donkey pub crawl, horse riding as well as providing historical information to tourists on the origin of Basotho blankets.
He advised the community to implement activities such as home stays for tourists who visit Semonkong in order to generate income as well as give s a feel of what it is like to stay in Lesotho.
Mr Thoola said they decided on build-up activities ahead of World Tourism Day celebrations in Semonkong and these included creating awareness among the community on the importance of tourism and how they can benefit from it.
They would also conduct a cleaning campaign that would be spearheaded by Amohelang and Semonkong high schools and other stakeholders.
He further advised the community to visits tourist attractions in their areas to know more about them so that they would be well-placed to educate foreign visitors about them.