Accommodation in Lesotho
Lesotho boasts a variety of accommodation establishments, ranging from Hotels, Lodges, and Guest Houses to Bed and Breakfasts and the unique Home stays which enable one to enjoy the unique culture and hospitality of the Basotho Nation.
The year 2013 saw the beginning of a new era of Lesotho’s quality tourism in the accommodation sector. Lesotho Tourism Development Corporation (LTDC) embarked upon developing a progressive star grading program for the sector. The program is considered progressive because it will be one of the first accommodation quality grading programs in the region to integrate grading standards that reflect both the overall quality of the lodging facility as well as its environmentally friendly practices and ability to receive guests with disabilities. Lesotho benched marked on the grading processes and experiences of Botswana and South Africa.
The program was funded by the World Bank through the Private Sector Competitiveness and Economic Diversification Project (PSC). The program aims to increase the competitiveness of the Lesotho’s tourism industry in the market, thereby attracting more international tour operators to sell Lesotho as a quality tourist destination.
This is an initiative that promises to improve the overall quality of infrastructure and services to the tourism lodging facilities throughout the kingdom. Tourism is a very competitive business and therefore we need to operate at international standard.
The development of the grading program has taken six months to put in place. This process captured the attention and support of 95% of the accommodation sector. The owners and operators participated fully in the design of the program and in the consultative workshops held. Operators were additionally able to voice their opinions about their perceptions of grading as well as the differences between 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 star facilities. It is important at this stage to highlight the design of the program in which the accommodation facilities are classified into 6 categories, namely hotels, lodges, guesthouses, B Bs, Self-catering units and camp sites. The process of quality grading will place emphasis on the following areas, amongst others: room size, furniture and linen; structural soundness of building, cleanliness, cuisine, bathroom facilities, service, reception facilities etc.
A team of highly experienced experts in the field of development of grading systems across the globe were engaged to train 28 Assessors and Master Assessors on the grading standards, assessment techniques, grading structure and procedures as well as improving their overall understanding of the local and international tourism industry.
Out of twelve (12) pilot assessments conducted, 11 facilities were subsequently awarded the appropriate star grades. It is worth mentioning that since the completion of the project and the pilot assessments, a good number of enquiries have been made by the accommodation facility owners and operators indicating their willingness to be graded.
Having taken into account the good response and buy-in of the program by the Operators, the Government of Lesotho has agreed on a policy decision to use only the graded accommodation facilities for Government meetings, incentives, conferences and events. Government Parastatals and other Corporates are also to be approached in a similar vain to give their business only to graded establishments as this is guaranteed to translate into value for money. This meant to be an incentive to the accommodation sector and also as a business development and marketing tool through which the operator is guaranteed increased revenue through more visitors and longer stays while the traveler experience is improved through better service delivery.
LTDC launched the Lesotho Grading Program on the 21st August 2013 where all tourism private sector practitioners and other stakeholders were invited. Worthy of mention is the fact that within the SADC region, member states have agreed to harmonize their grading standards so that by 2016, a 3 or 5 star graded facility offers a similar memorable experience whether in Botswana or South Africa or any other SADC Member state including Lesotho.
Lesotho is proudly affirms to reaching the target set by the region with a good leap in the first year; a minimum of 30 accommodation facilities will be graded by the end of 2013/14 financial year in an effort to reach and attract the new emerging tourist markets such as China and India into Lesotho.