LESOTHO’s tourist arrivals surged to 1, 2 million in 2018, recording a 3, 1 percent improvement from 2017, statistics from the Lesotho Tourism Development Corporation (LTDC) have shown.
The revenue accrued from these international tourist arrivals was M488 million, excluding domestic tourist arrivals in the same year. This has resulted in the creation of 2717 jobs.
According to the LTDC, most of the tourists who visited Lesotho came from South Africa, Zimbabwe, Germany, Netherlands and the United States of America.
Although the number of international tourist arrivals slightly dipped to 800 000 in 2019, LTDC has noted the improvement made from 400 000 international arrivals observed in 2011.
LTDC Chief Executive Officer, Mpaiphele Maqutu, this week lauded the figures saying there is significant progress towards the development of the tourism sector.
LTDC is the government’s marketing arm of the country’s tourism sector. Tourism is among the four priority sectors that the government has identified as key towards economic development along with manufacturing, technology and agriculture.
Mr Maqutu said their promotional efforts were bearing fruits as indicated by the statistics.
“We had international tourist arrivals at around 422 000 in 2011, but in 2019 the arrivals have improved to 800 000,” Mr Maqutu said adding: “that is almost double the 2011 figure, which is quite commendable”.
“In 2018 we saw a 3, 1 percent growth in the number of international tourist arrivals from 2017. The actual figure we recorded in 2018 was 1, 2 million international tourist arrivals.
“In general, this is a clear indication that were getting somewhere. We may be having challenges here and there but we are still winning. If we can all hold hands and pull in the same direction, we can achieve more than what we have right now.”
Mr Maqutu also indicated that the performance of the tourism sector depends on many other sectors of society for growth.
He therefore hailed the government’s efforts in deciding to upgrade to bitumen standard the Ha-Marakabei to Monontša and the Ha-Mpiti to Sehlaba-Thebe roads.
“These are milestones which are going to facilitate and unlock tourism potential in these places.
“Sehlaba-Thebe is no longer just a national heritage site, but it has now been declared by the UNESCO as now a world heritage site. This shows that there is some element of appeal that is found at Sehlaba-Thebe,” Mr Maqutu said.