By Mpho Shelile

MASERU – As a specialised field of tourism in Lesotho, LTDC is committed to enhancing the positive impact of tourism development on women’s lives, and, in so doing, contributing to the achievement of the 5th Sustainable Development Goal.

It is well known that tourism takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities. In preparation for Lesotho to host SADC WOMEN IN TOURISM summit in October 2023. LTDC held a press conference with the agenda of making the public aware that in October they will be hosting women in tourism from all SADC countries.   

The Lesotho Tourism Development Cooperation (LTDC) acting CEO, Mr Molapo Matela stated that in celebration of women month. They will host Lesotho’s first ever tourism exhibition which will have about 300 hundred women from different SADC countries just to tour Lesotho’s historical and tourist sites through the Woman in Tourism Program, which is an initiative that seeks to drive and support the development, empowerment, and promotion of women in the tourism sector known as WITLA (Women in Tourism Lesotho Association), the date set to hold the event will be from the 18th to the 20th October. “I am proud to tell you that our tourism industry is mostly dominated by women and the government supports them”, stated Matela.

A representative from WITLA, Mrs Mats’eliso Mokuoane specified that the organization was established in 2022 but was legally registered in February this year, under the society’s act of Lesotho. “I can attest that the organisation has more than 200 members who are from different sectors of tourism in Lesotho and our main objective is to have all women in the business field and those willing to venture into business join us”, she exclaimed. Adding on she stated that their aim is to work with every woman both in Lesotho and outside, to give each other advice on how to better the economy of the country and to empower each other.

“As we all know that tourism plays a major role in the growth of small businesses, I believe that if our hospitality and other sectors grow. The economy will significantly grow as well”, said Mokuoane. She further explained how Lesotho came to be the one hosting such an event. “We won a competition that was hosted by other SADC countries, hence we are to host this great event which is going to change the lives of Basotho forever. And the official announcement was done at an Indaba expo which was held in Durban. The exhibition will be hosted at Manthabiseng Convention Centre, I am very proud to add that we have partnered with the government to make sure this exhibition becomes a success”, she highlighted.

Mokuoane stated that she hopes all those business utilize this platform to network, “we are expecting visitors such as buyers, honourable ministers, investors, business leaders, Tourism board of directors, SADC secretariat directors and AU and ARM executives just to mention a few”, she indicated. It is in this exhibition where networking is going to be essential to form better partnerships and strategic trading partnerships.

She concluded by inviting all those who aspire to grow their businesses to attend this exhibition, she then asked for sponsors willing to assist to step forward and offer a helping hand so that this exhibition is a success for the growth of the tourism sector and the economy of the country as a whole.

Mrs Belinah Manapo Makhele who works at CGBW stated that their organisation is assembled to empower women worldwide hence they are a global organisation, “we offer support to woman who want to become entrepreneurs and women who are already entrepreneurs”, Belinah stated. She specified that her presence at the expo is to congratulate the WITLA and support them, because this expo will help in improving the economy of the Lesotho. “I pray that the Lord gives us the courage and wisdom to make the exhibition a success”, she concluded.

CEO  of LTDC Mr Tebello Tholo in his remarks said this is the biggest project to ever be held by the tourism industry, and they hope that they win over investors, not only that but also to make sure they attract more people with the means to grow the industry, which will help grow the economy too. “With tourism we hope to create job opportunities, and to contribute in the growth of the industry” he concluded, praising his team for the work they have been doing and wished that every Mosotho benefits from the summit.