Road signs van­dal­ism af­fects tourism

Lesotho Times - - Business - Retha­bile Pitso

THE Le­sotho Tourism De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion (LTDC) on Satur­day co-hosted a two-day work­shop in Thaba Tseka to pro­mote sus­tain­able tourism and raise aware­ness about road sig­nage van­dal­ism.

Ac­cord­ing to LTDC Se­nior Tourism Of­fi­cer Mo­lapo Matela, the work­shop was held in con­junc­tion with the Le­sotho Red Cross and Sen­te­bale Char­ity. Among the at­ten­dees were scores of live­stock herders who were con­sci­en­tised on the neg­a­tive con­se­quences of road sig­nage van­dal­ism to tourism and also re­ceived first aid train­ing.

Mr Matela said the ini­tia­tive to ed­u­cate the herders was in re­sponse to an out­cry from mem­bers of the Thaba Tseka com­mu­nity over the van­dal­ism of road signs.

“Road signs serve the very im­por­tant func­tion of di­rect­ing tourists to their des­ti­na­tions. The ab­sence of road signs poses a threat to both their safety and hopes of get­ting to their des­ti­na­tions on time,” he said.

“We there­fore asked for a slot dur­ing a pub­lic gath­er­ing in Marak­abei to ap­peal to com­mu­nity mem­bers, es­pe­cially live­stock herders, to de­sist from van­dal­iz­ing road signs.”

The herders, Mr Matela said, were mostly re­spon­si­ble for de­fac­ing or re­mov­ing the signs for per­sonal use.

“We pleaded with them to stop us­ing road signs to dec­o­rate their carts, kraals or home­steads and also urged mem­bers of the com­mu­nity to re­port such in­stances to the near­est po­lice sta­tion or to our pub­lic re­la­tions of­fice,” he said.

“Com­mu­ni­ties play an im­por­tant role in pro­mot­ing the tourism sec­tor. It is com­mon knowl­edge that the govern­ment of Le­sotho has iden­ti­fied tourism to­gether with agri­cul­ture, min­ing and man­u­fac­tur­ing as the top four job-cre­at­ing sec­tors in the coun­try.”

Mr Matela said in ad­di­tion to sig­nage, the tourism sec­tor also re­lies on com­mu­ni­ties to pre­serve nat­u­ral re­sources found within their sur­round­ings.

“We have na­tional plants that are pro­tected by law and which should not to be up­rooted since they are on the verge of ex­tinc­tion. Oth­er­wise, we will de­prive fu­ture gen­er­a­tions of the op­por­tu­nity to see them,” he said.

“We also ap­peal to those peo­ple with the per­mis­sion to har­vest some of th­ese pro­tected plants to do so with cau­tion and not to im­pede their growth. We of­ten carry out train­ing ex­er­cises to raise aware­ness on th­ese is­sues.

“The num­bers of wild an­i­mals such as an­telopes, which were pre­vi­ously found in abun­dance in the moun­tain­ous ar­eas, have greatly de­creased. We have now em­barked on a cam­paign to pre­serve the few that are left to boost the coun­try’s tourism sec­tor.”

He said the LTDC also alerts other govern­ment agen­cies such as the Roads Di­rec­torate to re­place miss­ing sig­nage and pro­tec­tive guard rails along the roads to help avoid car ac­ci­dents.

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