THE annual Afriski Winterfest started on a high note on Thursday in the highlands attracting hordes of revellers among them the South African High Commissioner to Lesotho, Sello Moloto.
Now in its fourth edition, the festival also attracted several South African tour operators as well as members of the local security services.
The fiesta erupted with skiing and snowboarding lessons for the patrons while professionals were already showcasing their skills on the snow ramp.
Music has always proved to be a good catalyst to any gathering and this time around DJs Davertz, Rubber Duc and Sean Hayz rocked the turntables keeping those that were not on the ramp busy on the dancefloor.
The first performance came in the afternoon from singer Simone Govender who accompanied his singing skills with an acoustic guitar.
The snow ramp was temporarily deserted in the afternoon as temperatures dropped drastically and festival goers sought refuge at Café Gondola where they were served drinks while dancing to music from the booming speakers.
Speaking to Xpress People on the sidelines of the event, Moloto who was a first timer, said his expectations were surpassed. He however, alluded to the need for more extensive marketing for the festival so that it attracts more foreign tourists.
“I have heard people talking about this place but I never thought I would be so enchanted,” Moloto said adding: “It feels as if Europe has been brought to Lesotho”.
“I believe people who are already dominating this place are South Africans but then I believe if it is well marketed it has the potential to boost Lesotho’s tourism drastically. I am happy to be here and would love to come back as often as I can.”
Local tourism operator, Leseli Tours also brought its South African counterparts who expressed interest in collaborating to bring in tourists to the country.
“We arrived on Monday and we have so far been to Thaba Bosiu and Semonkong and now Afriski. We love the view, the reception and the activities. This place is awesome. We got to ski for the first time and it is an experience of a lifetime,” said Refilwe Tladi, managing director of Thalera Tours from North West province of South Africa.
She said they have already started getting enquiries after they posted some of the activities and images from the places that they visited. Tladi said they would collaborate with Leseli Tours to bring in tourists from South Africa.
For her part, Lesotho Tourism Development Corporation (LTDC) public relations manager ‘Manchafalo Mot?oeneng said they are pleased with the increasing number of local tourists who visit the place.
“We always encourage Basotho to know their country first by visiting the local attractions other than planning holidays outside the country when we have so much to offer. Unlike in the past, Afriski now hosts a significant number of locals,” said.
“The festival normally has large numbers of Basotho from Friday afternoon till Sunday. Apart from this festival, some have fallen in love with skiing and they bring their families.”
She said they also travelled with members of the police, national security, army and correctional services so they too can become ambassador of the country’s tourism.
The festival ends today with performances from Gunshot Blue, 4am, Will Rayz, Tony Bala, Lizard, Blacksparrow, DJ Wags, Mocheques and Leomile.
A closing festival of the snow season has been penned in for 23 to 26 August. It will feature Tresor, Gangs of Ballet, Abby Nurock, Blow Trio, Tashy D’agrela, Freddy L, Slippery When Wet, Jerry and The Bandits, 4am, Sean Hayz, Lizard, Blacksparrow, Mocheques and DJ Wags.