Universal access tourism sticking point
LESOTHO Tourism Development Corporation (LTDC) has dedicated the September Tourism Month to tackling challenges hampering the full enjoyment of tourism benefits by people living with disabilities.
World Tourism Day is annually celebrated on 27 September.
Working under the theme “Tourism For All: Promoting Universal Accessibility”, LTDC Senior Tourism Officer Molapo Matela this week told the Lesotho Times they had chosen to celebrate tourism month with people with disabilities as they were usually marginalised in tourism issues.
“Each year, we have a series of activities to mark Tourism month, and this year’s theme focuses on ensuring that tourism includes all sectors of the community,” he said.
“We chose to celebrate with people living with disabilities because we have observed that most of our hospitality establishments don’t cater for their needs.”
Mr Matela said there was an ongoing campaign to sensitise local hospitality establishments to make provisions for persons with disabilities so they can fully access the facilities.
He revealed one of the factors they considered when grading hospitality establishments was their capacity to cater for the special needs of people with disabilities.
Mr Matela also disclosed they had lined up various sporting activities to be contested by people with disabilities at Kick4life grounds on Saturday.
“This is to show them that we appreciate them as part of the society,” he said.
There would also be prizes for the winners in the activities which were fully supported by Lesotho Football Association.
He said it was important to continue to promote tourism as it contributed to the economic development of Lesotho, adding there were 1.8 million tourist arrivals recorded in 2014.
“The tourism sector plays an important role in economic development and has been identified by the government as holding the potential to provide employment and reduce poverty.”
Mr Matela said the sector could cater to both the skilled and unskilled workforce.
“The production of handicrafts such as tra- ditional hats and others is done by unskilled people such as herd boys who are self-employed. On the other hand, the skilled workers are employed in the hospitality establishments. Our records show that the sector employees 2 969 employees on a full time basis,” Mr Matela said.
He said domestic tourism was growing steadily, contributing 62 percent of tourist arrivals around the country. He said school children accounted for a larger share of the figure.
LTDC is sensitising local hospitality establishments to make provisions for people with disabilities.