LTDC in tourism drive in Se­monkong

Lesotho Times - - Business - Retha­bile Pitso

THE Le­sotho Tourism De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion (LTDC) is work­ing on lever­ag­ing horserac­ing in Se­monkong to pro­mote tourism in the area.

LTDC Se­nior In­for­ma­tion Of­fi­cer, Mo­lapo Matela, made the re­marks in Se­monkong dur­ing a horserac­ing event or­gan­ised by lo­cals over the week­end. Dur­ing the event, the cor- po­ra­tion do­nated M8 000 to­wards the tour­na­ment as part of ef­forts to pro­mote do­mes­tic tourism.

“Horserac­ing is an in­te­gral sport in this part of the coun­try ow­ing to the con­ducive ter­rain for groom­ing horses and as a mode of trans­port,” Mr Matela said.

“The other rea­son we en­cour­age the rear­ing of horses here is so the com­mu­nity could gain fi­nan­cially through hir­ing them out to tour- ists.”

Mr Matela con­tin­ued: “Plans are in mo­tion to in­cor­po­rate the event into our an­nual cal­en­dar to en­able tourists vis­it­ing Le­sotho to know about it much ear­lier be­fore ar­riv­ing in the coun­try.

“Right now, there are about 70 tourists vis­it­ing Se­monkong who ar­rived at the lodge not know­ing about the horser­ace. So we want them to have such in­for­ma­tion at hand in fu­ture so that they come pre­pared to en­gage in it.”

He said plans were also afoot to es­tab­lish a tourism in­for­ma­tion of­fice to help mar­ket the area.

Mr Matela added that the cor­po­ra­tion was work­ing to ad­dress the safety chal­lenges of the area to en­sure the horse rac­ers do not fall off the steep ter­rain.

“We have taken into ac­count some of the no­tice­able chal­lenges in Se­monkong such as the risk the gorges pose to riders and will find so­lu­tions,” he said.

“We are con­sid­er­ing var­i­ous buf­fers to pro­tect the rac­ers from fall­ing over dur­ing the race. We have also noted that dur­ing the bet­ting, which is still be­ing done in­for­mally, ar­gu­ments en­sue. Go­ing for­ward, we may pro­pose bring­ing in some­one who can act as a mod­er­a­tor be­tween the bet­ters.”

On his part, Se­monkong Horse Rac­ing Com­mit­tee mem­ber Mpapa Mo­hale ap­pealed for more spon­sor­ship, adding that horse own­ers were not get­ting their due for par­tic­i­pat­ing in the event.

“Con­sid­er­ing the amount of re­sources and ded­i­ca­tion Se­monkong horse own­ers in­vest in this sport, one would have thought that by now it would have be­come a high pro­file event,” Mr Mo­hale said.

“We are, how­ever, still fac­ing many chal­lenges, one of which is the type of horses we groom here. Our lo­cal horses are not fit enough to par­tic­i­pate in ma­jor races. So, in try­ing to meet the stan­dard, we have to buy pricy race horses from South Africa which most of us can­not af­ford.

“Be­cause we can­not af­ford to spent M30 000 or M20 000 for qual­ity horses, we re­sort to buy­ing older ones which are less costly.”

He also said they were strug­gling to cover the costs of the horses’ up­keep and med­i­cal needs.

“It costs over M2 000 to take care of a horse prop­erly in a month, and the race of­fers very lit­tle to­wards their sus­te­nance,” said Mr Mo­hale.

“We wish that gov­ern­ment would spon­sor the event as it did other sports in the coun­try such as soc­cer. If we had that kind of sup­port, our liveli­hoods would be greatly im­proved.”

Jock­eys com­pete dur­ing the se­monkong race over the week­end.

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