LESOTHO HOSTS SOUTH AFRICAN TOURISM (SAT) AND TOUR OPERATORS
In their quest to promote tourism and maximize tourism business, the Tour Operators Association of Lesotho (TOAL), Lesotho Hotels and Hospitality Association (LHHA) and the LTDC established a working relationship with their counterparts (KwaZulu Natal Tour Operators Association South African Tourism and Tourism KwaZulu Natal) in Durban, South Africa during the Tourism Indaba show.
A follow up meeting and a familiarization tour was held at Maseru on 5th to 9th June 2019. The main objective of the meeting was to deliberate and establish ways in which both South Africa and Lesotho can collaborate in promoting tourism for mutual beneficiation and to discuss the challenges encountered by the tour operators regarding cross border trade. The familiarization tour to various tourist attractions was also arranged for the delegation to travel around Lesotho and have a feel of Lesotho’s tourism product offering with a view to incorporate Lesotho’s attractions and activities in their tour packages as well as for them to acquire more knowledge about Lesotho’s tourism related stories.
In his welcoming speech Head Strategic Marketing of Lesotho Tourism Development Corporation (LTDC) Tebello Thoola said the corporation is looking forward for a more fruitful partnership between the two nations for promotion of tourism. “LTDC only creates a conducive environment for tourism businesses to operate” stated Thoola. We are really privileged to nurture a symbiotic relationship started by our forefathers -King Moshoeshoe 1 and Shaka Zulu said the Head Marketing.
The Chairperson of TOAL- Rethabile Morake said after this initiative, they aim to establish a long term working relationships and tour operation linkages between the two countries. “Tourism has become one of the most significant service industries, encouraging the creation of new jobs and economic opportunities”, emphasized Morake.
Head of Marketing of Tourism Kwazulu Natal- Thulisile Galekile shared the same sentiments and articulated that the reciprocal relationship between Lesotho and RSA is going to yield fruitful results. She hinted that Tourism Kwazulu Natal is working on a miracle route and the plan is to link Lesotho and the Kwazulu Natal Province. “We aim to create a tourism value chain that will generate economic opportunities for Basotho and South Africans”, Galekile added.
Speaking at the same occasion the Managing Director of More Tours and Travel- ’Mabohlokoa Pekane explained that prior to INDABA she was one of the tour Operators who were selected by SA Tourism to engage on a tour to 4 provinces. She said that during the expedition she was able to interact with tour operators from other SADC countries and was inspired and learned a lot. “I am proud to say I am more knowledgeable than before as I can sell more of Lesotho and RSA tourism offerings than before” uttered Mabohlokoa.
The meeting became a fulfilling experience to some of the TOAL members as Spiral Travel Director – Khotsofalang Jobo won a fully sponsored award to take part in a Familiazation Tour and Tourism Expo – Meeting Africa to be held in RSA in August. Jobo won the prize after she correctly answered the questions which were asked during the session. After an expo she will be taken on a lifetime expedition to tour tourist attraction in selected provinces for three weeks. “I am so grateful of the opportunity offered to me and I believe a Tourism Expo and Familiraration Tour is going to broaden my horizons and equip me with skills in promoting Lesotho as a destination of choice” stated Jobo.
The visitors were then taken on a 3 days familiarization tour -first day the visitors were taken to Thaba- Bosiu plateau, they climbed the plateau and on top of the mountain the history of plateau was eloquently narrated by Taoana Mohapi-Site Guide. Later they descended to Thaba- Bosiu Cultural Village wherein they were pampered with traditional cuisine and later in the sundown they were treated to a bonfire and traditional performances experience.
The Second day, the group headed to Semonkong known as a place of smoke, Semonkong is a home to a well-known Maletsunyane falls which has the longest commercially operated abseiling in the world of 204 meters. The visitors were spellbound by the spectacular view of the falls and canyon’s surrounding the area. The crew later went for a practical training on abseiling and afterward ate a catered lunch at Semonkong Lodge. The day was wrapped up with pony trekking and blanket presentation at the village and a sleep over in Leribe district.
The final and third day the team took a journey to the only skiing resort in Africa-Mahlasela Afri Ski Resort, they were unwinded on an enlivening experience wherein they were given practical lessons in skiing and bombarding. Later they were regaled by a Disc Jockeys (DJ) music show at the destination. The Visitors were marveled by the 3 days exploration and touring of the “Kingdom in the Sky’’ and took portraits behind the background of tourist attractions such as Thaba-Bosiu, Qiloane Mountain, Maletsunyane Falls, Thabana Li Mele and Afri Ski. The South African tour operators were upbeat and promised to incorporate Lesotho’s attractions and activities in their tour packages and likewise requested tour operators from Lesotho to include RSA in their tour packages.
In an interview with the Managing Director of Leisure Holidays- Mbali Msomi said she was mesmerized by the beauty of Kingdom of Lesotho. I didn’t know Lesotho has so much to offer especially the culture and history, the adventure activities were engaging and fascinating says Mbali. I was so impressed of the community involvement in tourism at Semonkong concluded Msomi.