LTDC in drive to save tourism ourism

Sunday Express - - FRONT PAGE - Lim­pho Sello

The Le­sotho Tourism Devel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion (LTDC) on Wed­nes­day em­barked on a cam­paign aimed at pre­serv­ing the coun­try’s sta­tus as the ul­ti­mate tourist des­ti­na­tion fol­low­ing so­cial me­dia re­ports that school­child­ren were ha­rass­ing and even at­tack­ing the vis­i­tors.

The cor­po­ra­tion’s of­fi­cials on Wed­nes­day vis­ited pri­mary schools along the ha-Katse to Thaba-Tseka route and ad­dressed stu­dents on the need to be friendly to tourists, and never to bother the vis­i­tors by beg­ging for good­ies and cash, and at­tack­ing those who fail to com­ply.

Ac­cord­ing to LTDC Public Re­la­tions Of­fi­cer, Mo­lapo Matela, there had been nu­mer­ous com­plaints from tourists, who al­leged they had been ha­rassed by young­sters dur­ing their vis­its to Le­sotho, hence Wed­nes­day’s visit to Khomo-Li-ileng, Sekho­hola, Nkokana and Khohlo- Ntso pri­mary schools to talk about the is­sue and put an end to what has in­creas­ingly be­come cause for con­cern to the cor­po­ra­tion whose duty is to sell the king­dom as a par­adise due to its unique cul­ture and to­pog­ra­phy.

Mr Matela added the ag­grieved hol­i­day­mak­ers were also spread­ing news of the ha­rass­ment through so­cial me­dia, which he said could prove dis­as­trous for the coun­try’s tourism in­dus­try in the long term as Le­sotho would then be con­sid­ered un­safe for hol­i­day­mak­ers.

Ac­cord­ing to Mr Matela, the World Travel and Tourism Coun­cil had es­ti­mated that in 2013, tourism con­trib­uted 5,5 per­cent to Le­sotho’s Gross Do­mes­tic Prod­uct, which is the to­tal mon­e­tary value of all goods and ser­vices pro­duced over a spe­cific time pe­riod, hence the LTDC’s mission to save this crit­i­cal in­dus­try.

“The tourists have re­ported to us, the LTDC, that school­child­ren beg for money and sweets from them and when they don’t com­ply, they stone their ve­hi­cles,” Mr Matela said.

“This was a very dis­turb­ing devel­op­ment to us as a cor­po­ra­tion, since our duty is to sell the coun­try as a prime tourist des­ti­na­tion to the world.

“But how do you go out there and tell the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity that your coun­try is safe when such re­ports of vi­o­lence are all over so­cial me­dia? That’s why we are here to­day to en­cour­age th­ese young­sters not to be­have that way and hope­fully, the mes­sage is go­ing to get across be­cause it’s re­ally em­bar­rass­ing to tell prospec­tive tourists that Le­sotho is a very peace­ful coun­try, only for them to find oth­er­wise when they come here. Ob­vi­ously when they go back to their re­spec­tive coun­tries, they will talk about such in­ci­dents of in­tim­i­da­tion and this coun­try will suf­fer.”

In re­sponse, Khomo-Li-leng Pri­mary School Deputy Prin­ci­pal, ‘Mamokholit­soane Ngate, said she was aware of the prob­lem, adding how­ever, that the ha­rass­ment came as a dis­ap­point­ment since tourism was one of the sub­jects taught at the in­sti­tu­tion.

“We teach the stu­dents about th­ese things and how to treat the tourists, but they don’t lis­ten. On sev­eral oc­ca­sions, I have seen some of them run­ning af­ter the tourists’ ve­hi­cles when they pass by the school, ask­ing for all sorts of things from the vis­i­tors.

“We talk to the stu­dents about this and or­der them to stop the prac­tice, but they sim­ply don’t lis­ten, maybe be­cause they have be­come too familiar with us since we are their teach­ers. hope­fully, this visit by LTDC of­fi­cials will put a stop to this em­bar­rass­ment,” Ms Ngate said.

how­ever, Sekho­hola Pri­mary School Deputy Prin­ci­pal, ‘Mamorapeli Lenong, said the tourists were partly to blame for the chil­dren’s un­ruly be­hav­iour.

“Some of th­ese tourists have in­stilled this beg­ging cul­ture into the stu­dents. They throw sweets and money at them as they drive around th­ese parts, and the young- sters have come to ex­pect such be­hav­iour from ev­ery tourist. And if any of the tourists pass by and don’t give them any­thing, the chil­dren be­come an­gry and start at­tack­ing them.

“I am not con­don­ing the young­sters’ ter­ri­ble be­hav­iour at all, but sim­ply high­light­ing some of the is­sues that I be­lieve could be con­tribut­ing to the prob­lem.

“The tourists should also be dis­cour­aged from in­cit­ing this be­hav­iour among the chil­dren, and only then, can we be able to erad­i­cate this chal­lenge.”

LTDC PRO Mo­lapo Matela ad­dresses Sekho­hola Pri­mary School stu­dents on Wed­nes­day.

POnyTRekking is one of Le­sotho’s ma­jor tourist at­trac­tions.

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