THE local tourism sector recorded a 7 percent increase in accommodation revenue in 2017, a recently released report has said.
The research was conducted by the Lesotho Tourism Development Corporation (LTDC).
LTDC chief executive officer Mpaiphele Maqutu told the Lesotho Times this week that last year alone the sector recorded M905 million in accommodation revenue from M844 million recorded in 2016.
The sector recorded M822 million for accommodation in 2015.
He said the increase is owed to the grading of hospitality establishments which started in 2013.
Mr Maqutu said the figures augur well for the country’s economic development prospects.
“This economically means more revenue for accommodation facilities, which also has job creation implications for our country,” Mr Maqutu said.
Mr Maqutu further said the government also stands to collect more taxes when the revenue of hospitality facilities improve.
In 2013, the government introduced Lesotho Quality Star Grading Programme to ensure that every commercial lodging facility in the country is graded and adheres to prescribed international standards.
Driven through the LTDC, the initiative is meant to boost Lesotho’s tourism development through attracting more tourists, which would in turn impact positively on the country’s economic development.
“We have learnt from the operators of accommodation facilities that they have recorded more arrivals at their establishments since they were graded.
“So, it is clear that the improvement in the operation of hospitality facilities has been positively affected by the grading programme,” Mr Maqutu said.
He said the growth is also attributed to other interventions like the ‘visit your country first’ campaign which was launched in 2012 and has made steady progress for the local tourism industry.
He further said their marketing efforts both locally and regionally have played a significant role in attracting tourist arrivals into the country.
“Basotho are also starting to establish local visits which is a welcome development to us. We believe this is as a result of the Visit Your Country First campaign which we have initiated.”
Mr Maqutu also lauded a 2016 agreement signed between South African tour operators and local home owners for the upturn in revenue.
“In the past, tourists would not leave any significant revenue in the communities near the Sani border in the Mokhotlong district but now tourists now pay for accommodation provided by the nearby homes.
“Due to the positive impact that the agreement has had in the Sani area, we are extending the same concept to the rest of the border lying areas,” he said.
In the LTDC’s latest newsletter, Mr Maqutu notable that progress has also been made in skills development in tour guiding where several guides have been trained, packaging pricing of tours and harnessing technology to meet clients’ needs.
“In the area of tourism receipts, a remarkable M905 Maloti was accrued from the accommodation sector in 2017 as compared to M844 million in 2016.
“On reputation management and tourist safety, we significantly reduced the incidents of bribery and harassment through proactive and ad hoc sensitisation initiatives targeted at different segments of the population as well as through solid collaboration with relevant stakeholders,” Mr Maqutu said.