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Women in tourism join forces

By Liapeng Raliengoane

MASERU – Women in Tourism, a program that seeks to drive and support the development, empowerment and promotion of women in the tourism sector held a conference in effort to have medium to large sectors adopt micro and small entrepreneurs.

The event took place through the coordination of the Lesotho Tourism Development Corporation (LTDC) in Maseru on Tuesday, where LTDC also awarded certificates to entities that were selected to have worked exemplarily.

One of the Attendees from Mahlakapese Holdings, Matšeliso Mokuoane indicated that as small and large enterprises owners, they need one another. She made known that in the Northern districts, they have a forum whereby they meet once every month to discuss issues affecting their businesses.

In his remarks, LTDC Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dr. Retšelitsoe Nko applauded women in tourism for holding each other. He urged women to promote tourism, “LTDC is proud to see women in joint forces to uplift one another in the tourism sector. Women play a vital role in the tourism sector. Sustainable Development Goal 5 (Gender equality) is at the center of what we are thriving for in the tourism sector. We wish to see the sector flourishing because there is a great potential.”

The Minister of Tourism, Environment and Culture Hon. Ntlhoi Motsamai pointed out that the tourism sector in Lesotho took a long time to find its feet, saying the main reason is that it was left in the hands of men and foreigners. She opined that recently women in Lesotho seem to have taken a huge step of promoting tourism.

Hon. Ntlhoi also revealed that this conference will be an annual event. She pressed that women in tourism should form smart partnerships and be patriotic. She further said the ministry has introduced a new service of collecting tax from the tourism sector called Tourism levy.

The Ministry of Gender, Youth, Sports and Recreation Principal Secretary (PS) Dr. ‘Mamoeketsi Ntho said the challenges facing women entail: violence from clients towards female workers in the tourism sector, female travelers who come across violations and harassment inclusive of rape and unwanted sexual advances and human trafficking.

Dr. Ntho advised women in tourism to develop safety tips in their entities (written safety tips inside guest houses and hotels), to sensitize their staff on warning signs of human trafficking so that they can recognize when one of the clients is uncomfortable with whoever they are travelling with. She also urged hotels and guest houses to offer free sanitary towels, Bibles and safety tips in their rooms.

Women in Tourism is a programme that elevates the status of women in tourism by providing capacity building initiatives: training, empowerment and networking opportunities. The intention is to have medium to large sector players adopting or carrying micro and small entrepreneurs through sub-contracting, collaborations, out-sourcing, mentoring and financing.

LTDC’s role post the Women in Tourism Conference will be to employ methods and tools to walk side by side with Adopters and Adoptees to track progress and assess the impact whilst putting in tailored and short interventions to ensure sustainability of the programme.