By Mpho Shelile

The Lesotho Development Corporation (LTDC) celebrated world tourism month and Tourism Day at Thaba-Bosiu on September 27th. It is a global annual celebration that aims to raise awareness on the importance of tourism and its social, cultural, political, and economic value.

In his speech the CEO of LTDC Mr. Tebello Thoola emphasized that tourism Day plays a vital role in raising cognizance about the multifaceted importance of tourism, from its economic benefits to its contribution to cultural exchange, environmental preservation, and community development. “Our mandate as LTDC is to ensure that Lesotho gets tourists as well as investors by promoting and marketing Lesotho locally, regionally and internationally.”

Tourism fosters cultural exchange and understanding. It brings people from different backgrounds together, promoting tolerance and respect for diverse cultures. Tourism month emphasizes the role of tourism in promoting global harmony and cultural appreciation. Stating that in order to promote tourism day globally, they celebrate it by highlighting the importance of the tourism industry. For this platform they have encourages people to explore new destinations, experience different cultures, and appreciate the beauty Lesotho holds.

“Tourism is a significant driver of economic growth in many countries, we use it to create jobs, stimulate business opportunities, and generate revenue through various sectors such as hospitality, transportation, and local businesses. We also hope to alleviate poverty and contribute to the economic growth of Lesotho”, Mr. Thoola stated. He went further to share that they plan on doing all of this by making sure that the hosting communities benefit the most.

“The main reason we are here in Thaba-Bosiu planting trees, is because of this year’s theme which is investing in green”, he said. “We are also promoting environmental awareness, responsible tourism and sustainable travel practices which are essential for preserving natural habitats and protecting the environment.” he concluded  

On behalf of the principal chief of Thaba-Bosiu Chief Matobako Theko indicated that Thaba-Bosiu is a historical place, “It is our duty to protect the place against people who want to destroy it by burning down the mountain whenever they feel like it.”

From the tourism development committee Mr. Makhetha Motšoari stated that communities should be engaged because they play a major role in the tourism industry, “By providing opportunities for income and development, jobs creation is how we are to ensure our communities are involved. “we are planting this trees today because we want to make sure that we preserve our culture but not only that, we are also moving with the global climate change, while they’re all pretty and wonderful to look at their importance stems far beyond beauty. The value and purpose of trees is enormous, and their existence is vital for our survival”, he said.

Targeted investments can deliver jobs and support local businesses and industries while mitigating the environmental impacts of tourism, empowering communities, promoting cultures, and contributing to essential social protection systems. “So let us all do more to harness the full potential of sustainable tourism. Because investing in sustainable tourism is investing in a better future for all.”

This is a chance to reflect on the importance of our sector. Tourism is a pillar of our economy. It plays a central role in our societies and in our individual lives. It offers solutions to some of our biggest challenges – including the climate emergency and the urgent need to shift to more sustainable economies. “Today, the climate emergency is threatening many travel destinations and the very survival of communities and economies that depend on tourism. So what LTDC is doing today is to invest in making sure that we alleviate poverty”, he said.

“Governments and businesses must invest in sustainable and resilient tourism practices. People, mostly Basotho must learn to adopt to zero-emission paths, they must lower their energy consumption and influence renewable forms of energy.”

In his remarks the DA of Maseru Mr. Tšepo Lethobane stated that tourism has suffered enormously during the COVID-19 pandemic.  About 120 million jobs are at risk. This will particularly affected the most vulnerable countries, including Small Island developing States, the least developed countries and many African nations, Lesotho included. “As we look to recover from this profound crisis, the safe restart of tourism is essential, not least for rural development but also for the focus of this year’s World Tourism Day.  We have an unprecedented opportunity to transform the relationship of the tourism sector with people, nature, the climate and the economy.  We must ensure a fair distribution of its benefits and advance the transition to a carbon-neutral and resilient tourism economy”, he said.