Kome Caves residents benefit from tourism
THE Lesotho Tourism Development Corporation (LTDC) last week presented M648 to each of the five families who are the descendants of the people who lived at Kome Caves in the 19th century.
This money was part of the proceeds collected as entrance fees to view the caves by the tourists who visited the attraction last year.
The Kome Caves, situated in Malimong in the Berea district, are a National Heritage site that is rich in history dating back to the 1800s. The unique caves’ village is hidden under a large rock. The amazing caves served as a fortress for its settlers who fled cannibals and the Lifaqane wars that devastated much of the Southern African region in the early 19th Century. They also provided warmth in harsh winter and rainfall seasons.
Today, some of the descendants of the earliest settlers still live in the caves while others have moved out to settle above the caves.
Speaking at the handover ceremony, the LTDC Public Relations Manager Manchafalo Mots’oeneng said the community, through the Kome Cave Information Centre, collected M108,000 from the tourists who visited the caves.
She said to ensure that the community benefitted, on an annual basis the LTDC allocated part of the money to the descendants of the earlier cave residents while the other proceeds are injected into community development projects.
“Last year the money supported a water supply project in the community which had been struggling to access clean water,” Ms Mots’oeneng said.
She urged the community to ensure that the area was clean and not to cut down trees to try and keep the attraction in its original form.
“Good interpersonal communication with the tourists can also go a long way in ensuring that the tourists return to see the caves with their friends,” she told the villagers.
Speaking on behalf of the residents, ‘Mamotonosi Ntefane said that the community was benefitting from the attraction through selling local food to the visiting tourists and the proceeds from the information centre. Through the proceeds, families are able to send their children to school and to meet various household needs.