Tourism enjoying sweet patch

MASERU –– Lesotho’s tourism sector last year raked in M207 million, a 35 percent increment from the previous year’s total revenue of M154.2 million.

Matobatsi Mohobane, who heads the research and development desk at the Lesotho Tourism Development Corporation (LTDC), said the sector was experiencing a boom in tourist arrivals.

Mohobane was addressing a one-day workshop organised by the LTDC to discuss the need to keep accurate data on accommodation facilities.

The workshop was attended by managers and owners of hotels and lodges as well as officials from the tourism industry.

The LTDC’s mandate is to promote the tourism sector in Lesotho and make the country the preferred tourist destination in southern Africa.

The LTDC falls under the Ministry of Tourism, Environment and Culture.

“The main aim of the workshop was to involve the people in accommodation establishments to make them aware of the importance of recording information,” Mohobane said.

Mohobane said information on tourist accommodation was compiled on a quarterly basis.

She said the LTDC was concerned with compiling information on the number and type of rooms, beds occupied, the revenue accrued as well as the number of people working at the facilities.

“We realised that a lot of information is lost due to non-compliance, delays, inconsistency and total failure to forward information.

“This hinders our operations when planning and marketing as incorrect information will give misleading results,” Mohobane said.

The LTDC official told the workshop that hotels in Maseru had the highest occupancy rate at 27.2 percent.

Mohale’s Hoek, Mokhotlong, Mafeteng and Thaba Tseka had an occupancy rate of 47.7 percent, 27.1 percent, 33.3 percent and 32.4 percent respectively.

She said the tourism sector had generated M207.7 million in the past year, an increase of 35 percent from the revenue total of M154.2 million realised in 2007.

Mohobane said of the M207.7 million that was realised last year M94.7 million was from accommodation.

This was a 32 percent increment from the previous year’s total of M71.4 million.

The LTDC said the biggest contributors to the revenue generated were Maseru, Berea and Leribe.

“The national occupancy rate is 18.2 percent which is below the average occupancy rate of developing countries which ranges between 27 to 35 percent,” Mohobane said.

She said while there has been a significant increase in the number of tourists the hotel and lodge occupancy rate remained low.

“Some of the other establishments only offer sleeping facilities and maybe food, to tourists, hence the low occupancy rates.

“There should be more unique entertainment activities offered to tourists to make them stay in the establishments for as long as possible,” she said.

This trend was found throughout the country.

“In the northern region there is a high number of tourists who come to enjoy the scenery. But they only come in the country for the day and sleep in neighbouring towns across the border in South Africa such as Clareens,” said Mohobane.

Ramatlali Nkhahle, who is the head of investment promotion at the LTDC, called for a grading system for hotels and lodges to help improve the facilities to international standards.

“Grading will set a certain standard, so that when the owner of the establishment wants to improve the establishments to a certain level then there is a clear set of standards,” Nkhahle said.

He said the LTDC was already working with an international consultancy firm, Grant Thornton, to help set up a grading system for hotels and lodges in Lesotho.

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