MASERU — Representatives from 10 local firms in the tourism sector are in Durban, South Africa, to attend a six-day tourism indaba that began on Thursday.
The indaba seeks to create a platform for players in the tourism sector to market and exchange ideas with other businessmen around the continent.
The tourism indaba is an annual event and is hosted by the government of South Africa.
The meeting will end on Tuesday.
Lesotho Tourism Development Corporation (LTDC) public relations officer, Tsiu Shale, said the event will provide an opportunity for players in the tourism sector to market the country.
“The event is attended by people from all over the world and this presents huge opportunities for the country as we will be able to interact with international investors and tour operators,” Shale said.
Shale said the indaba is one of the biggest tourism marketing events on the African continent.
He said the LTDC is working in conjunction with the private sector to promote Lesotho’s tourist attractions on the international market.
Some of the businesses taking part at the indaba include a leading hotel based in Maseru and operators of guest houses and lodges in Lesotho.
The Lesotho Council for Tourism, Lesotho Hotels and Hospitality Association and Tour Operators Association of Lesotho are also attending the indaba.
According to the LTDC, the majority of tourists visiting Lesotho come from South Africa.
For instance, in 2008 out of the total 293 073 tourists who visited the country, 248 548 were from South Africa.
At least 22 700 tourists came from Europe.
Shale said the tourist arrivals from Europe were still significant with tourist arrivals from the Asian market also on the rise.
“Europe has been (a significant) market for a long time and we would like to increase the number of tourists coming to stay in the country for some time,” Shale said.
Shale said the football World Cup tournament which begins in South Africa on June 11 has also triggered a steady rise in tourist bookings.
He did not provide any figures.
He however said some smaller tourism operators had reported full bookings at their lodges.
“There are some operators who are already receiving bookings from international Asian tourists,” Shale said.
“Most of the fully booked establishments are predominantly in Maseru while there have also been bookings in Mokhotlong.”
He said it appeared some tourists coming for the World Cup were keen to exploit the gaps between matches depending on where and when their team is playing.
“Some tourists may want to travel from Bloemfontein to Durban and go through Lesotho where people will experience our beautiful attractions on their way to the next host city,” he said.
At least 12 177 people attended the last tourism indaba held in Durban. Of these 2 341 were international visitors from 109 countries.
The LTDC is also expected to host a small investment promotion seminar at the indaba to help improve the performance of the tourism sector.