By Tsitsi Matope
MASERU — Lesotho’s hospitality and accommodation sectors are still not fully aware how they could positively benefit from the star-grading system launched in September last year.
This lack of awareness subsequently saw the Lesotho Tourism Development Corporation (LTDC) recently conducting a series of workshops in Maseru, Berea, Butha-Buthe and Mafeteng to underline to owners of hospitality facilities the importance of having their facilities graded.
In an interview with the Lesotho Times, the LTDC’s Investment Promotions Manager, ‘Mamello Morojele said follow-ups made after the star-grading launch showed many owners did not fully understand the concept of standards.
The proprietors, she further said, were also not clear when it came to grasping how the star-grading-system would positively impact on their businesses.
“This is why we also decided to invite some of the representatives of the six graded establishments so they could share their experiences regarding their businesses before and after they were graded.”
According to Morojele, the biggest issue was the misunderstanding over the repercussions of failing to acquire the desired stars on businesses.
“The issue of stars is important for both improved marketing results and for the continued improvements on standards,” Morojele said.
An establishment which has been awarded one star, for example, should not use this as an excuse to slacken on services, Morojele added.
“It should be the very reason why standards should continue to improve to ensure that in future, the facility’s status is further upgraded. Being a one-star establishment does not also take business away but shows such facilities value standards and strive to continue improving to attain additional stars.”
On the other hand, Morojele said despite fear by some owners that their establishments might fall far too short of the minimum requirements; many of them were ready to be graded.
“Except for a few details that need to be attended to at some facilities, a good number of them are gradable,” she said.
Establishments graded after the launch include Orion Mohale Lodge, which has three stars, Mohokare Guest House, two stars, Blue Mountain Inn, three stars, Motlejoa Guest House, one star and Botleng Guest House, three stars.
Representatives of all the graded facilities commended the rating system for helping them easily market their establishments to international tourists and increasing their bookings.
The Managing Director of the Maseru-based Botleng Guest House, Puleng McCathy, said the grading system has been the “icing on the cake” for her facility.
“The star-grading system has helped us make our potential visitors understand where they can place us based on the number of stars,” she said.
McCathy added although visitors came expecting three-star treatment, they always surprised them by providing even better services.
The star-grading system, she added, has helped her understand the importance of maintaining high standards of service.
“The service you provide determines the kind of messages visitors would share with their families and friends, afterwards. For us, word-of-mouth promotions have done us good while the grading has been the icing on the cake.”