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SA firm assesses local tourism sector

Mpeshe Selebalo



MASERU — A South African firm is currently carrying out assessment on 20 accommodation establishments as Lesotho moves to adopt the international grading system for the tourism sector.

The assessments are being carried out by Batsoi Hospitality Enterprise, an independent assessor of the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa.

Lesotho Council for Tourism executive director `Matiisetso Libetso said the ongoing assessments began on February 8 in five districts — Berea, Butha-Buthe, Leribe, Maseru and Mafeteng.

Libetso said the evaluation, which is expected to run until the end of this month, is the first step towards ensuring Lesotho adopts a proper grading system for accommodation establishments ahead of the football World Cup which kicks off in neighbouring South Africa in June.

“The assessment is to see whether the establishments meet the basic minimum requirements,” she said.

“The assessors will then compile a report advising property owners on what renovations need to be done for them to meet the minimum requirements (as per Fifa standards).

“The second stage which is the actual grading process is dependent on the willingness of the owner to carry out those refurbishments.”

Libetso said the five districts were chosen because of their proximity to Bloemfontein, one of the host cities of the football showpiece that begins on June 11.

Players in the tourism sector have in the past complained about the absence of a proper grading system for accommodation establishments in Lesotho.

Libetso said the assessment and subsequent grading exercises which are all voluntary are expected to be completed by the end of April.

“There are a lot of advantages for establishments which are eventually going to be rated and I’m happy that these accommodation providers have taken this very important step,” she said.

“We are satisfied with the response since this is the first time such an exercise is being undertaken.

“We are aware there might be a little scepticism from proprietors but more establishments are expected to volunteer for assessment in the future.”

Libetso said the tourism authority will assist owners who need to upgrade their businesses by helping them secure loans from banks and other financial institutions.

“Each accommodation provider has its own minimum requirements based on those stipulated in the proposed Lesotho grading system,” she said.

Libetso said the 2010 Fifa World Cup had helped kick-start the grading process for Lesotho.

“The evaluation is necessary for the overall development of the tourism industry in Lesotho and we would want to see more establishments being graded,” she said.

“Grading would invariably boost consumer confidence and see an overall improvement in customer service.”

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