Tap into growing tourism value chain, Leribe villagers told

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Bereng Mpaki

THE Lesotho Tourism Development Corporation (LTDC) has encouraged Leribe villagers to tap into the emerging tourism value chain this festive season spurred by sand dunes in their area.

Tourists are expected to flock to the site which shot to prominence in 2020 and has now been identified by the LTDC as one of Lesotho’s fastest growing tourist attractions.

Perched on a plateau surrounded by Ha-Mapape and Ha-Shepheseli villages, the site is accessible through hiking or on horseback, which enhances its tourist pull.

The LTDC this week visited the area to sensitise communities living around the site to organise themselves and take advantage of the tourist influx in the area to generate income.

The corporation urged the community to form tourism interest groups through which they can entertain holiday makers and generate income in the process.

LTDC public relations manager, ‘Manchafalo Motšoeneng, told the Lesotho Times that the site’s attractiveness should be channeled into creating jobs for the local community.

Tourism is one of the sectors identified as a key priority area for the country’s economic development as per the second National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP II).

“The sand dunes site is one of the fastest growing tourist attraction sites with a desert look and feel,” Ms Motšoeneng said.

“This makes it a good tourist product for someone who wants a desert experience.

“We are therefore, engaging the communities around the area to organise themselves so that they can generate some income from tourist arrivals in the area.”

The community sensitization was also meant to teach the community to be hospitable and welcoming to tourists.

“The government wants all natural tourist attraction sites developed to improve their contribution to uplifting communities but due to funding challenges, it would be good for the host community to initiate the development.

“We prefer to collaborate with the local community as this would help in safe guarding the site because it would be their property. Investors from outside the local community are still welcome but they must be willing to partner with the community to ensure they benefit in the development.”

She said the LTDC would capacitate the local community with the necessary skills to tap into the tourism value chain in the area.

Addressing Ha-Mapape villagers, LTDC public relations officer, Molapo Matela, said the community should aim to keep tourists for longer periods by coming up with services or products that will compel them to extend their vacations.

“Their visit should not end with the sand dunes but must include other activities you can come up with to keep them intrigued for longer. The idea is to keep them in the area so that they can spend more money here.”

He advised the villagers to form interest groups for providing cultural performances, produce handcrafts to sell to tourists and also convert their used houses into lodges (homestays) to accommodate visitors.

On his part, Labour and Employment Minister, Moshe Leoma, who is also the All Basotho Convention (ABC’s) legislator for Matlakeng constituency, within which the site is located, expressed joy that the place was finally gaining traction for the benefit of the community.

“The community must take good care of the site and protect it. We have an opportunity of having a good tourist spot that can be linked with other tourist sites within the Leribe and Butha Buthe region,” Mr Leoma said.

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