In its endeavor to strengthen tourism initiatives and also encourage hospitality among the host nation the LTDC made a planned a visits to tourism interest committees at Tlokoeng and Ha Belo in Botha Bothe district and Matsoaing in Mokhotlong district earlier this month.
The following day, the LTDC team proceeded to Sekiring area in Sani village and embarked on a community gathering for cattle owners and herd boys, the meeting was sequel to complaints lodged by travelers of inhospitality of herd boys towards tourists the Sani area.
As part of promoting tourism ambassadorship, grey branded blankets were given to committee members of tourism interest groups of the three groups. The first trip started in Tlokoeng in Botha Bothe.
The Tlokoeng village is a must visit and is endowed with many fascinating attractions such as different species of birds, the spectacular Thaba Khubelu which harbors the endangered Southern Bald Ibis (Geronticus calvus), the Kopu and Kopunyane caves, which were once home to the Batlokoa clan people.
This explains why the village was later named Tlokoeng. The inhabitants of Botha Bothe are today known as Likila because of Sekila (protea) tree, which is endemic to area.
Addressing the committee members, the Public Relations Manager of LTDC ΄Manchafalo Motšoeneng said the purpose of the meeting was to motivate the members to think of innovative ideas that can lure tourists to visit their areas.
Motšoeneng indicated that tourism has a multiplier effect, citing that provision of services such as accommodation, food and beverages, agriculture, tour operation and tour guiding to visitors can improve livelihood of the community.
“When sustainably managed tourism can stimulate economic growth and development, enhance culture and indigenous products and has a knack to promote local businesses,” stated the Manager.
“Tourism has ability to create employment for the youth especially those that have completed their studies because they can coherently and fluently narrate the history of Basotho and places of interests in both Sesotho and English,” averred Mrs. Motšoeneng.
The team then progressed to Ha Belo, a village near the Caledornspoort border in the Botha Bothe district.
The settlement is known for its authentic culture and also the community predominantly consists of descendants of Shaka Zulu, the King of the Zulu people who speak the Ndebele language.
The villagers are known for their stunning traditional performance groups which are usually sought to perform at various traditional and national events. The neighboring attractions to Ha Belo include Botha Bothe plateau where king Moshoeshoe I lived before migrating to the Thaba Bosiu fortress.
During the gathering, the Assistant Tourism Officer- Mr. Nqheku Matolo said Ha Belo villagers have a fascinating traditional performance group which mesmerizes audience during celebrations and can be used as a selling point to attract visitors to visit their village.
Also speaking in Ha Belo, Motšoeneng urged the villagers of Ha Belo to take appealing pictures and video clips of their homestays and activities and send them to the corporation so that can it can assist to promote and showcase them on visit Lesotho social media platforms.
The last trip was to Matsoaing village, which is found in the remote parts of Mokhotlong district.
Matsoaing is an epitome of a rural homestay setting, it gives tourists real experience of the way of life of the Basotho such as grinding corn (poone) on a grinding stone to produce maize meal, fetching water from a well, cooking traditional cuisine using a cast-iron ports, horse riding and nearby attraction and interpretation of history of Basotho by elders , traditional healer who casts bones (litaola) to make a diagnosis and determine the proper treatment to sick people.
During the Matsoaing tour, the LTDC team was welcomed by ululating women and thereupon by a breathtaking performance of a committee and traditional performers, the crew was rapturous and marveled at the same time by the brilliant showpiece of Matsoaing women traditional group.
In her testimony the committee member Mrs. Mankareng Nkune said that they are reaping rewards from the tourist visit in their village, tourists pay for traditional performance, artifacts, village walks and accommodation in the rural homestays.
“Tourists visiting Matsoaing are enjoying experiential tourism on which visitors interact with the community and learn how to sing Sesotho songs, visitors learn how to grind corn on a grinding stone to produce maize meal and tourists really enjoy the experience,” says Mrs. Mankareng.
The Public Relations Manager expertly explained the tourism logo that branded the grey blankets, she pointed out that it portrays the ruggedness of the Lesotho terrain, high and low elevation of Lesotho, the rivers, the traditional hat (Molianyeoe), the horse that is ridden by Basotho to traverse the Maloti Mountains.
During the discussion the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of LTDC Molapo Matela encouraged the committee members to create various activities that will elongate tourists visit in the area. “The longer the visitors will stay in the destination the more money they will spent and in the process generate revenue for the local economy,” averred Matela.
The trip was concluded by a community gathering at Seking in the Sani village in the Thaba Tseka district, Sani is situated at an elevation of 2,874-metre pinnacle of southern Africa’s most well-known and tough road pass. The nearby attractions include the renowned Thabana Ntlenyane, the highest peak in Southern Africa standing at an elevation of 3784 meters above sea level.
Invited to a meeting were herd boys and cattle owners, the gathering was in response to complaints lodged by travelers of harassment by the herd boys. The gathering was intended to encourage hospitable behavior by the host people and share ideas on ways that can be utilized to generate revenue during tourist’s visits in their area.
The Public Relations Manager of LTDC Mrs. Manchafalo Motšoeneng appealed to herd boys to embrace hospitable conduct towards visitors as they leave behind financial foot prints.
The Manager further appealed to farmers/ cattle owners to reprimand herd boys under their supervision to shy away from engaging in unsavory behavior as this will scare away tourists to not want to revisit Lesotho.
“Any acts of misconducts by the host nation especially herd boys are usually captured on camera and have a negative effect of tainting the image of Lesotho as a preferred destination for tourists, thus this defeats initiatives embarked upon by LTDC and related stakeholders to improve and grow tourism,’’ says Mr. Motšoeneng.
“There are various activities that herders can tap into like knitting hat with mohair or straw whilst looking after their livestock and they can also engage in traditional performance as this will generate income for themselves and their families, “explained the Manager.
The herders said that they are disheartened by the irresponsible manners of other herd boys and that represents herdsmen job negatively to society and visitors, they however promised to share lessons learnt from the gathering with other herd boys who didn’t attend the gathering.
A livestock owner Mr. Leshoboro Makhaola conveyed his heartfelt appreciation to LTDC and suggested for a training to be held for both herd boys and commercial farmers on the importance of good hospitality and ways and means communities can implement to generate revenue for their families.