THE Lesotho Tourism Development Corporation (LTDC) on Saturday co-hosted a two-day workshop in Thaba Tseka to promote sustainable tourism and raise awareness about road signage vandalism.
According to LTDC Senior Tourism Officer Molapo Matela, the workshop was held in conjunction with the Lesotho Red Cross and Sentebale Charity. Among the attendees were scores of livestock herders who were conscientised on the negative consequences of road signage vandalism to tourism and also received first aid training.
Mr Matela said the initiative to educate the herders was in response to an outcry from members of the Thaba Tseka community over the vandalism of road signs.
“Road signs serve the very important function of directing tourists to their destinations. The absence of road signs poses a threat to both their safety and hopes of getting to their destinations on time,” he said.
“We therefore asked for a slot during a public gathering in Marakabei to appeal to community members, especially livestock herders, to desist from vandalizing road signs.”
The herders, Mr Matela said, were mostly responsible for defacing or removing the signs for personal use.
“We pleaded with them to stop using road signs to decorate their carts, kraals or homesteads and also urged members of the community to report such instances to the nearest police station or to our public relations office,” he said.
“Communities play an important role in promoting the tourism sector. It is common knowledge that the government of Lesotho has identified tourism together with agriculture, mining and manufacturing as the top four job-creating sectors in the country.”
Mr Matela said in addition to signage, the tourism sector also relies on communities to preserve natural resources found within their surroundings.
“We have national plants that are protected by law and which should not to be uprooted since they are on the verge of extinction. Otherwise, we will deprive future generations of the opportunity to see them,” he said.
“We also appeal to those people with the permission to harvest some of these protected plants to do so with caution and not to impede their growth. We often carry out training exercises to raise awareness on these issues.
“The numbers of wild animals such as antelopes, which were previously found in abundance in the mountainous areas, have greatly decreased. We have now embarked on a campaign to preserve the few that are left to boost the country’s tourism sector.”
He said the LTDC also alerts other government agencies such as the Roads Directorate to replace missing signage and protective guard rails along the roads to help avoid car accidents.