Univer­sal ac­cess tourism stick­ing point

Lesotho Times - - Business - Bereng Mpaki

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.

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