By ‘Muso Nkhasi
Hospitality, food and travel entities are some businesses which contribute immensely in the tourism sector. They boost the country’s revenue and create employment for citizens, while instilling a sense of culture between foreigners and citizens.
Afriski Mountain Resort is one of the big recreational facilities which draws in tourists from all over the world to Lesotho. Currently the resort is experiencing some challenges which led to its shutdown until further notice.
In March, Afriski Mountain Resort announced on its Facebook page that Afriski slopes will not be open for the 2023 winter season. It was indicated that this marks the very first winter season since 2009 without the skiing adventure/extravaganza. Afriski assured its supporters that the executive team is working tirelessly around the clock to ensure its reopening.
Phillip Rawlins said many South African tour operators who regularly visited Afriski as part of their winter vocational place are very disappointed by this closure. “I don’t think there is one solution to rectify all this, it needs various people in the tourism sector to sit down and have a discussions on how to overcome this hiccup. No one has all answers. Together we can make a difference,” said Rawlins.
“I feel really sad about this and for the locals. We need to create more jobs. I don’t know why this happened but something has to be done to keep places like this open. South Africa lost Tiffindell and now Lesotho too Afriski, Afriski is the only existent ski resort in the Southern African hemisphere. The impact is huge and we will never really know the magnitude of this lose on the local economy. I just hope and pray something will be done to resurrect this diamond. We need more tourism in Lesotho,” he added.
Setho Letsie from The Blanket Presentation Home said “this will have a negative impact in the economy. The shutdown of the activities will cut revenue generation in the tourism industry, employees will lose their jobs thus increase unemployment rate in Lesotho.”
Citizens also indicated that this is an opportunity for Basotho to step up and take over the resort. Basotho can use this opportunity to jump on the front seat other than claiming that they have been side-lined.
Qoboko Makhakhe, said that government needs to intervene, as this means loss of revenue for the country. “Let Government intervene and mediate between the warring factions. If that fails put a proposal to lease the facility for this season and appoint others who may be interested in running it for the time being.
The government should facilitate a dialogue between the warring factions, and encourage them to find a solution. If that fails, government should facilitate that they sell to a more palatable group of investors, led by an indigenous Mosotho investor,” he explained.