Domestic tourism drive reaps rewards

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Some of the LAA staff who participated in the event at Afriski.
Some of the LAA staff who participated in the event at Afriski.

Mohalenyane Phakela

THE Lesotho Tourism Development Corporation (LTDC) on Saturday held a domestic tourism campaign at Afriski Mountain Resort in conjunction with the Land Administration Authority (LAA).

During the event, LTDC and LAA staff were taught to ski by Afriski trainers, competed in a ski race and also participated in a torch light parade among other activities.

According to LTDC Public Relations Manager, Manchafalo Motšoeneng, the visit to the Butha-Buthe-based resort was part of the ongoing “Visit Your Country First” campaign which is meant to promote domestic tourism.

“The LTDC is mandated with promoting and marketing tourism locally and internationally. We invited various companies for a joint trip to this resort to raise awareness on the country’s tourism attractions,” she said.

“Our aim is to create tourism ambassadors in the corporate sector. When they come to ski at Afriski, they will spread the word to other Basotho that tourism is not for foreigners only, but for us as well.

“We also want to show that snow can be used for recreational purposes and not be viewed merely as a natural obstacle or nuisance.”

Motšoeneng said some of the participants were so enthralled by the event that they had vowed to return with their families.

“Some of the participants are already planning to come back with their family and friends after the great experience, which in turn promotes domestic tourism.”

She said the domestic tourism promotion campaign was launched in 2012 and held in various places around the country.

“We have been promoting different tourism attractions around the country by visiting them with different groups of people such as students and the corporate sector as we have done this time around,” said Motšoeneng.

“Each tourism attraction has its own seasonal niche, so we chose Afriski because it is currently attracting many people due to its skiing facility.

“Next month, we will be visiting Semonkong where the Maletsunyane Falls are located with representatives of companies that were unable to come to Afriski. We also welcome the general public wishing to join us.”

She said the campaign was slowly but surely reaping rewards, with some Basotho organising excursions on their own to various tourism attractions in the country.

“We used to foot the expenses of people we travelled with when we first introduced this campaign. Now they pay their own way, which shows that Basotho have started to realise the importance of tourism,” Motšoeneng said.

“We have also taken note of various groups of Basotho who are organizing trips to different tourism attractions in the country on their own which proves that domestic tourism is growing.”

The LTDC, she said, had been encouraging management at tourism resorts to diversify their product offerings to ensure they always had something to offer throughout the year.

“It is essential that our destinations attract tourists throughout the year. So we encourage them to come up with facilities that attract tourists regardless of the season,” said Motšoeneng.

“For instance, Afriski started off as a snow-dependent facility that would be out of business in summer. But now the resort offers such activities as hiking, cycling and bike racing, among others, which enable them to operate throughout the year.”

She added: “We are involved in a number of awareness activities to urge various communities to take care of tourists and keep their surroundings clean. We also encourage them to come up with products they can sell to tourists so they also can benefit too.”

LAA Executive Manager Tankiso Sephoso said they participated in the campaign to promote domestic tourism.

“We saw this trip as an important initiative which encourages Basotho to know their country first. This is why we support LTDC on this campaign,” he said.

“Sports and recreational activities promote a healthy working environment, and a refreshed mind provides better results. So we intend to continue supporting initiatives of this nature as they benefit us as well.”

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