Fresh bid to promote local, cross-border tourism



MASERU – The national tourism working group has undertaken a partnership with the media to try to promote the types of potential and available tourism within the Maloti Drakensberg Transfrontier Conservation Area (MDTFCA) – as part of the post Covid-19 recovery strategy. This is planned to bring around domestic tourism, that seems to have been negatively impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. The group says there is quite a number of activities that were planned with regard to cross-border activities, however, Covid-19 happened in 2020, and everything had to stop. Borders were only opened in 2022 for travelers to visit their destinations of interest.

Currently, there is visible progress with hiking proving to be one of the emerging activities that has captured the interest of many people. Refiloe Ramone, Maloti Drakensberg Transfrontier Programme (MDTP) chairperson, indicates that the working group is meant to promote the development of sustainable cross-border tourism activities. He said there are activities that are happening, but they have to happen in such a way that the communities within those areas are the most primary beneficiaries of tourism happening in their areas.

He said: “MDTP through the support of SADC GIZ, made an initiative to promote MDTFCA, for the fact that most communities were entirely relying from the tourism rated activities, some had lost their jobs, some are still open but there is still a challenge, while some establishment have completely closed due to non-functionality and non-income.” He said the Lesotho Tourism Development Corporation (LTDC), has mounted a campaign named ‘Visit your country first’ to that effect. With this, he said, the private sector, especially the hiking clubs, seems to have responded to that initiative accurately because they are now planning hiking trails through their clubs almost every week or every month, and that brings a hope in the tourism sector, that at least the locals understand. “However, though that is being done, we also encourage to those hiking clubs to engage with the local communities along their route, they should ensure that there are some benefits that the local communities benefit,” Ramone added.

He said with the local communities, they know almost each part of their areas, “so we can say they are our ambassadors, they also need to be capacitated as to how to approach tourism, how to treat tourism and how to interact,” he added. Within the MDTFCA, there is water rafting at Clarens, game driving, Kome Cultural Caves and Tšehlanyane National Park, to mention a few, which are unique in their own way. Some of them, he continued, are natural, while some are nature based, making them attractive and tourists to stay much more longer, therefore creating some jobs for the local communities. 

MDTFCA is a collaborative initiative between governments of Lesotho and the Republic of South Africa to conserve and sustainably manage the globally significant natural and cultural heritage resources of the Maloti Drakensberg mountain region which straddle some 300km of the border between the two countries. The key objective is to contribute to economic development of the region through the promotion of nature-based tourism.

MDTP, through its tourism working group and financial support from GIZ, organised a media tour of key summer attractions of the MDTFCA as the preferred tourist destination of choice. It was established through the signing of the memorandum of understanding between Lesotho and South Africa in 2001, covering the five districts of Quthing, Qacha’s Nek, Mokhotlong, Botha-Bothe and Leribe, while on the South African side it covers the three provinces of Free State, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu Natal.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *