THE Lesotho Tourism Development Corporation (LTDC) has called on Moteng community in the Butha-Buthe district to develop a strong culture of hospitality and treat tourists well as part of efforts to boot tourist arrivals to their area.
Senior LTDC officers made the call at a recent meeting with members of the Moteng community at Phelandaba Primary School in Moteng. The meeting was part of the ongoing LTDC initiatives to sensitise communities in areas with tourist attractions on how best to interact with tourists and benefit from the tourism industry.
Some of the major tourist attractions in the district include the Liphofung Caves and Nature Reserve.
According to the website, http://www.travellesotho.com, the Liphofung Caves and Nature Reserve are a “cultural and historical site of great importance…which were once a bushman shelter and later used by King Moshoeshoe I, the founder of the Basotho nation”.
“The cave features stone-age rock paintings as well as rich archaeological deposits. Liphofung has been developed with the focus on cultural education and the preservation of the rock paintings, as well as the legacy of early Basotho history of the area.
“Local guides are available to interpret the historical, cultural and natural significance of the site and the area as a whole, while cultural displays, such as traditional dancing, may also be enjoyed. There is a site museum and visitors´ facilities include a craft outlet and a playground,” the website further states.
The Mahlasela Afriski Resort is another tourist attraction which is not far from Moteng.
Addressing the community, LTDC Public Relations Officer Molapo Matela said that the aim was to have tourists spend a lot of money and thus benefit local communities, contribute to the growth of the tourism industry as well as the national economy.
Mr Matela said this could only be possible if they got warm reception and hospitality from locals.
“Tourists visit an area to view its attractions and also to learn about its culture. It is when they get a warm reception that they will dig deep into their pockets to pay for the services you may offer them.
“The world has become a village through technology in that people can communicate and this can be good for us in that if a tourist was treated well, they will communicate that to the world though social media and thus lure more people to visit.
“But if they get a bad reception they will post negative comments which will cause potential tourists to stay away,” Mr Matela said.
He further implored the locals to join hands to come with ways of benefitting from tourist arrivals by offering them various services.
“There are so many ways in which you can benefit from tourism such as selling crafts, traditional cuisine, dances, renting out horses and rooms in our homes to tourists.
“It is important to work as a group because it becomes easier for you to gain recognition from tourists. We can also easily work with you as LTDC. We are also in talks with accommodation establishments to buy fresh produce from locals so it is important for you to engage in agricultural production as well.”
The LTDC Public Relations Manager, ‘Manchafalo Mot?oeneng, urged the community to teach their children to treat tourists well and refrain from being nuisances by throwing stones at tourists or asking them for sweets.
“An injury to one tourist is an injury to all because people research about an area before they visit and if they find negative comments from other people who have visited before, it means they adopt that negative perception as well.
“It is important to teach our children that it is bad for them to ask tourists for goodies and then throw stones at their cars if they do not deliver. The students must learn good stories on the history of their area which they can tell to tourists,” Ms Mot?oeneng said.
For his part, the principal of Phelandaba Primary School, Lefunyane Mahlola, commended the LTDC for its advice to the learners, saying it complemented their own efforts to instill good behaviour in them.
“We often rebuke students for blocking the road while playing or demanding goodies from people they do not know. The (LTDC) information will come in handy,” Mr Mahlola said.
An elderly community member, Christina ‘Mantaote Makhoahla, expressed her gratitude to the LTDC, saying the meeting had given them renewed hope of benefitting from tourist arrivals to the area.
“We have always been known for our hospitality to domestic and foreign tourists. The meeting has given us hope of benefiting as we were equipped with ideas on how to sell our products,” she said.