Covid vaccination to boost tourism revival – Motsamai

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Bereng Mpaki

THE ongoing Covid-19 vaccination programme will boost the revival of the ailing tourism sector, Tourism, Environment and Culture Minister, Ntlhoi Motsamai, has said.

Ms Motsamai said this in her keynote address during the World Tourism Day commemorations in Maseru this week. She said the sector had suffered immensely due to the Covid-19-induced lockdowns.

The minister said many tourism businesses suffered financially and were forced to retrench workers to manage their expenses.

However, she is optimistic that vaccination will lower Lesotho’s Covid-19 risk status and allow more tourist arrivals as many businesses depend on external tourists for revenue.

According to the National Covid-19 Secretariat (NACOSEC), by last week, Lesotho had last week vaccinated 384 649 people.

The figure translates to 18 percent of the population, which is above the World Health Organisation’s 10 percent inoculation target by end of September 2021.

Lesotho relaxed its Covid-19 restrictions this month allowing international tourists into the country for the first time in over a year.

“We have been encouraged by the rate of Covid-19 vaccination,” Ms Motsamai said.

“It gives confidence to international travellers to visit Lesotho and also encourages local tourists to visit our attraction places without the fear of being infected.”

She appealed to the public to tour the country to stimulate demand in the sector.

“I encourage Basotho to visit the country’s attraction places to ramp up the demand and help grow the industry.”

While this year’s theme of the World Tourism Day; Tourism for Inclusive Growth, was in line with Lesotho’s long-term strategic objectives as enshrined in the National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP II), its spirit has been threatened by the banning of the majority of tourism activities.

“We are concerned by the past lengthy banning of many tourism activities on account of Covid-19 as this has financially crippled many businesses leading to closures and job losses in the sector.”

But despite the setback, the ministry has been resilient. It has been capacitating tour guides, promoting the country’s tourism profile through digital channels such as the visitlesotho.travel and social media platforms.

 

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