THE Lesotho Tourism Development Corporation (LTDC) on Friday awarded certificates to 24 villagers in a three-week community tourism workshop in Ha-Matela, Thaba Bosiu.
The workshop, which was held in in conjunction with Action Lesotho was meant to equip residents of Thaba-Bosiu, Malimong, Kome and Baroana with skills to venture into tourism-related businesses.
Addressing the graduates, LTDC Investment Promotions Officer Tsepang Hatasi said they should implement their newly-acquired skills to create employment and develop their communities.
He said the initiative was one of many community-based tourism projects the corporation had piloted since 2014 in line with an agreement between the government and the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).
“As a member of the UNWTO, Lesotho has undertaken to transform the livelihoods of Basotho through community-based projects in the tourism sector,” Mr Hatasi said.
“Since 2014, LTDC has embarked on numerous projects of this nature such as homestay and tour guide training among many others. Today, we have just trained 24 people with skills in innovation and entrepreneurship so that they can sustain themselves through tourism.”
Under the agreement, Mr Hatasi said, UNWTO pledged $66 000 (M949 634), while government funded injected M500 000 towards supporting the projects.
“One of the conditions UNWTO gave for their funding was for government to ensure that community-based projects were implemented,” he said.
“The LTDC will assess the projects on a regular basis to measure the progress that has been made in fulfillment of the requirements. We encourage you to implement what you learnt during your training so that you are able to create employment for both yourselves and the nation at large. If you don’t, the financiers will stop bankrolling these noble projects.”
On her part, Action Lesotho In-Country Director, Pippa Kearon, said they equipped the participants with skills to maximise the tourism potential of their localities.
“One of our objectives in this workshop was to equip the participants with knowledge of what would impress a tourist,” she said.
“For example, we urged the participants to develop their understanding of the history of their localities so they could explain the origins of their communities to tourists.”
By knowing an area’s history, Ms Kearon said, it adds value to the product being sold irrespective of what it might be.
“There are some beautiful paintings in Ha-Baroana which should be talked about more. Every place has a unique aspect with the potential of attracting tourists,” she said.
“We also encouraged them to add value to their cultural artifacts such as traditional music which most tourists coming from abroad would like to listen.
“Most of them visit Lesotho to experience something different from where they come from, so Basotho should look into innovatively exploiting the beauty found here.”