THE Lesotho Tourism and Development Corporation (LTDC) is intensifying its efforts aimed at ensuring sustainable tourism in the country with campaigns of cleaning up tourist attractions.
Recently the LTDC held a clean-up exercise in the resort area of Semonkong- home to the world-famous Maletsunyane Waterfalls- as preparations for the World Tourism Day commemorations continued to gather momentum.
World Tourism Day is commemorated annually around the world on the 27 September in an effort to raise awareness on the role of tourism within the international community and to demonstrate how it affects social, cultural, political and economic values worldwide.
The international community designated 2017 as the International year of Sustainable Tourism for development.
This year’s World Tourism Day will be commemorated under the theme, ‘Sustainable Tourism, a tool for development’.
The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) defines sustainable tourism as “tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities”.
Recently, the LTDC intensified its preparations for the World Tourism Day through a clean-up campaign of Semonkong which was also aimed at raising awareness of the benefits of maintaining a clean environment in the quest to promote sustainable tourism.
Speaking on the sidelines of the campaign, LTDC Public Relations Manager, ‘Manchafalo Motsoeneng told the Business Journal that the exercise marked the first step towards sustainable tourism in the country.
Ms Motsoeneng said that LTDC had embarked on a sensitising different communities about the importance of keeping Lesotho clean.
“Today we have set an example to the community about the importance of keeping the environment clean,” Ms Motsoeneng said.
“The only way to attain sustainable tourism is through educating and having awareness campaigns for communities.”
The cleaning was done in collaboration with Travel and Tourism students at Semonkong and Amohelang High School.
Maletsunyane Falls in Semonkong is one of the highest single dropping waterfalls in Africa and it creates a haze of smoke as the water plummets 186 metres into a spectacular gorge.
The local community recently complained to the LTDC that they were not realising tangible benefits from the tourist attraction despite the fact that the falls were internationally recognised and attracted many local and foreign visitors.
Ms Motsoeneng said they were keen to equip small businesses in the area with skills that would enable them to produce quality products to ensure they benefitted from the tourist arrivals.
She added it was time the LTDC and the environment department in the Ministry of Tourism to ensure communities are educated on the importance of tourism.
In a related development, LTDC Head of Strategic Marketing, Tebello Thoola also told a community gathering at Semonkong Stadium that they had a “diamond” in their hands in the form of Maletsunyane Falls and it was time they started benefiting from it.
“As we will be celebrating the World Tourism Day under the theme, ‘Sustainable Tourism, a tool for development’, we want to make sure that the community benefits from tourism,” Mr Thoola said.
He said as the theme suggested, the community should strive to come up with sustainable businesses to enable them to benefit from tourist arrivals.
“The theme says we have to protect our natural resources such as the Maletsunyane Falls and rock paintings and keep them in good shape for tourists who wish to come and see them.
“Tourists bring a lot of money to Lesotho and it is time Basotho start benefiting. We would like locals to start organisations and come together to figure out different ways in which they can benefit,” he said, adding that they have to ensure that tourists always found a clean and conducive place whenever they visited.
LTDC concluded the clean-up campaign by donating four litter bins to the community.