MASERU — Tourism operators should improve their facilities to international standards to increase the inflow of tourists in the country, Lesotho Tourism Development Corporation marketing manager Tebello Thoola has said.
Thoola said participants and tourists at the International Tourism Bourse (ITB) held in Germany recently had shown “great interest” in visiting Lesotho.
“We have met a significant number of international tour operators that were interested in including Lesotho in their packages which will benefit the tourism industry in the country,” he said.
“Our main market is Germany, France and the United Kingdom, although there are some tourists from the Netherlands and Scandinavian countries so it is important to market Lesotho,” he added.
However, figures show South African tourists make up about 96 percent of the arrivals in the country with a few European countries making up the rest of the market for Lesotho.
The easier way to market the country is through tourism exhibitions such as the ITB where there are huge numbers of international tour operators, hotel owners and investors, Thoola said.
“This is where countries all over the world promote their countries as tourist destinations so it is a good opportunity to meet investors and to market,” he added.
One of the challenges is the standard of the accommodation establishments in the country, Thoola said.
“Tourists are fragile in nature so when they feel they are not offered what they have paid for it becomes hard to retain or attract more tourists in the country,” he said.
“We are in the process of grading accommodation establishments in the country which is necessary to improve the competitiveness of the industry.”
About 53 countries in Africa attended the ITB where Lesotho was ranked position nine based on presentations done by African countries.
“When we were in Germany there was a great interest in the artifacts that are manufactured locally,” Thoola said.
“This shows that there is great potential for exporting into such markets.”
There is need for cooperation between the parties involved in the tourism industry and those in entrepreneurship development, he said.