By T’soloane Mohlomi

MASERU – The Lesotho Tourism Development Corporation recently observed World Tourism Month at a ceremony held at the Maseru Arts and Craft and Information Centre in Maseru.

Commemoration of the month is marked every year by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), and retaining the theme “Tourism and Green Investment” for the year 2023, the commemoration of World Tourism Day will be observed on the 27 of September later in the month.

Speaking at the ceremony the LTDC’s acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mr Tebello Thoola, said it was with great joy that they welcomed and celebrated World Tourism Month, this as the LTDC had a mandate of promoting tourism activities in the country and also marketing Lesotho as a favourable tourist destination for both locals and foreigners.

Making reference to the “ke Lapeng” campaign in which the LTDC collaborate with Alliance Insurance Company to promote local tourism, where locals are encouraged to know and visit their country first, Mr Thoola said tourism had the potential to stimulate the economy creating sustainable livelihoods and development. He lauded all the stakeholders who availed themselves in support on the day saying it would have never been possible without their support.

“Today, I feel very privileged and honored to stand here in front of you in this auspicious occasion in the beautiful mountain Kingdom of Lesotho, affectionately known as The Kingdom in the Sky for the launch of the fascinating Tourism Month of September 2023,” he said

“The theme TOURISM AND GREEN INVESTMENT, which basically emphasizes on investment activity that focuses on projects or areas committed to protecting the environment such as reducing pollution, using fewer fossil fuels, conserving natural resources and developing alternative energy resources.

“According to the theme; the UNWTO will focus on three developing areas namely, People, Planet and Prosperity.

  He said the people aspect will be executed by investing in education and skills, Planet: by investing in sustainable infrastructure and accelerating green transformation, and Prosperity: by investing in innovation, technology and entrepreneurship.

“Ladies and gentlemen the LTDC has invited financial Institutions and donor agencies, to talk to tourism stakeholders, small and medium sized enterprises and tertiary institutions about the services they offer which can assist improve their businesses.

“It is with the help of financial institutions that business can grow and create much needed jobs and generate revenue for their enterprises. Hence research has revealed that the private sector is the one that has the potential to create job opportunities especially for youth and women who represent a large percentage of the unemployed.”

On the financial institutions part First National Bank represented by Ms. Moorosi said they were willing to give guidance to crafters and urged tourists to approach the bank immediately should they wish to exchange foreign currencies.

Ms. ‘Maleronti Rasethunts’a from Lesotho Post Bank said their bank was adaptive and would cater for the needs of entrepreneurs in the tourism industry.

Mr. Lehlohonolo Chefa from the government’s Competitiveness And Financial Inclusion Project (CAFI) which is a project aiming to empower growing businesses through adequate funding, CAFI supports entrepreneurs with 80% of costs for successful individuals applications and 70% for businesses.

He said it was important to note that CAFI worked with established businesses only, and the project would provide $20 000 worth of support to various businesses for the next five years.

  Tourism month will be completed and celebrated on the 30th of September, wherein Lesotho Hotels and Hospitality Association (LHHA) will be hosting a gala dinner in celebration of its 30th Anniversary.

The main World Tourism Day will be commemorated in Thaba-Bosiu on the 27th of September 2023, signified by an indigenous tree planting activity near the iconic Qiloane Mountain. The Initiative further enhances the use of sustainable use of our natural resources.