THE Lesotho Tourism Development Corporation (LTDC) has taken its drive to promote home-stays for tourists to the Mokhotlong community, urging villagers to embracing the practice and generate much-needed revenue by.
Home-stays are accommodation facilities provided to tourists by local communities in their houses. Homeowners can let part of their houses and charge tourists for nights spent. They can also provide, for a fee, meals and facilitate activities such as horse riding, mountain climbing and site-seeing excursions.
The LTDC held a two-day tour of five Mokhotlong villages namely Ha Mohale, Moeaneng, Qobellong, Motsitseng and Khomo-Khoana, which started on Wednesday.
The purpose of the LTDC tour was to bring awareness to the villagers about the material benefits of accommodating tourists in their homes and charging for the service.
Addressing a public gathering in Ha-Mohale village, LTDC Assistant Tourism Officer Nqheku Matolo he said the villagers’ homes and simple lives were part of the unique experience visitors to Lesotho were looking for.
“Your huts just need to be comfortable, clean and without parasites before accommodating tourists as well as being secure so that the tourists want to visit the country again,” Mr Matolo said.
“There is a popular saying that tourists like luxury but that is not always the case. Tourists want a warm welcome and to be cared for when they are in our towns or villages.”
He said the villagers could provide for their families through homestays rather than leaving their homes in search of jobs in the urban areas or abroad.
The Mokhotlong community was very fortunate, Mr Matolo said, that their villages were along the tourist passageway to Africa’s highest peak, Thabane Ntlenyana.
He also said homestays were not only beneficial to individuals but to communities and the country as a whole.
“You can provide the tourists with accommodation in your huts and serve them traditional dishes,” said Mr Matolo.
“This, on its own, is job creation and other places like Tsatsane village in Quthing and Malea-Lea village in Mafeteng are already benefiting from the home stays.
“The LTDC can work together with you to make this a reality. We are here to give you guidelines on how to start and implement since other people are already benefitting.”
The corporation has, in recent months, organised several tours for various stakeholders in a bid to demonstrate the immense potential of tourism and how it can positively impact local communities.
The tours also seek to highlight why the local communities should be taken as serious partners in the development of the sector.
Also speaking at the event was Mokhotlong Expeditions Tour Operator, Khabiso Nkune, who urged the villagers to be courteous and ensure the security of the tourists during the home stays.
“When the tourists come to Mokhotlong, welcome them into your houses and make them feel safe and you will benefit immensely,” Ms Nkune said.
“When we pass through this area, we experience some problems with villagers who didn’t know how to accommodate and entertain tourists.”
On the part of the villagers, Moroa Chabalala said they would take on board the advice they had been given to ensure the safety of tourists within their communities.
“We need to look after tourists living in our households and must not abuse them,” Mr Chabalala said.
“We must give them all the care they need and deserve so that they can leave money and invite more tourists to our country.”
He said they needed to show tourists that Lesotho is a peaceful country where even outsiders feel at home.