“Tourism forms the backbone of Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS) and there is a direct relationship between tourism and countries’ immigration processes and regulations.”
These were comments made by Deputy Director-General Risenga Maluleke in his welcome address to the Lesotho Tourism Development Corporation (LTDC) delegation hosted by Statistics South Africa from 24–25 June 2015.
The delegation was led by Chief Executive Officer Mpaiphele Maqutu, and also comprised Head of Compliance Mamacase Maleka, as well as Head of Research and Development Sehlabaka Ramafikeng.
The visit stemmed from the Joint Bilateral Commission of Cooperation (JBCC) between South Africa (SA) and Lesotho signed in April 2001, as well as the Memorandum of Agreement entered into in May 2006 between the LTDC and three SA provinces, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and the SA National Parks in respect of the Maloti Drakensburg Transfrontier Conservation and Development Area.
In 2012, the two governments signed a mutual agreement to cooperate in the field of tourism, focusing on the exchange of information, marketing and investment promotions, cross-border tourist movement and study tours. Due to capacity issues, the LTDC, working closely with the Lesotho Bureau of Statistics (LBOS), was tasked to produce tourism statistics for the country and undertook the recent tour to learn more from Statistics South Africa and discuss possible bilateral cooperation to enhance the tourism statistics gathered through the borders shared by the two countries.
“We envisage that this relationship between LTDC and Statistics South Africa will assist us in comparing and improving tourism statistics for both countries,” said Mr Maqutu.
The deliberations included sharing the two countries’ experiences on processes involved in the production of tourism statistics, surveys conducted and frequency, collection methods and tools used, monitoring and evaluation, guiding regulations, key stakeholders, and challenges. Following an insightful presentation by the General Manager of Strategic Research at South African Tourism, Ms Bashni Muthaya, the participants discussed the issuing of visas, implementation of the new rule on travel, Ebola, xenophobia and their possible impact on tourism. The delegation also took lessons from South Africa on the impact of working with the Revenue office in improving tourism statistics.
These discussions culminated into ways of formalising relationships between LTDC and Stats SA through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), where the need to involve the Lesotho Bureau of Statistics was found to be critical. The delegation was then tasked to identify collaboration areas that would inform the MOU and a follow-up process would be undertaken involving all the role-players. In light of the on-going CRVS discussion on the continent through forums such as the Africa Symposia on Statistical Development (ASSD), the involvement of the LTDC was also found to be critical in the upcoming 11th ASSD to be held in Gabon, to share the rich experience of tourism statistics with the rest of Africa.
In his closing remarks, Mr Maqutu expressed his hearty gratitude for fruitful discussions and the learning experience his delegation was exposed to during the two days, stating the visit had exceeded their expectations.
“This is the beginning of greater collaboration and enriching the statistics the two countries share,” said Mr Maqutu.