LTDC in tourism drive in Semonkong
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.