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Minister praises women in tourism

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MASERU – TOURISM Minister Ntlhoi Motsamai has commended women for playing a key role in the growth of the tourism industry in Lesotho.

Motsamai was speaking at a Women in Tourism Empowerment celebration held in Maseru on Tuesday.

“The tourism industry has been stagnant for a very long period. It has been in the hands of men and foreigners,” Motsamai said.

“Ever since women started venturing into this sector, the growth began showing up,” she said.

“Women have played a major role in leading this industry as well as transforming it.”

She said women deserve to be honoured for opening doors for other women to make a living out of this industry.

“This ceremony will be held each and every year.”

Motsamai urged women to network so that they can grow together.

She said the tourism industry performs well through smart partnerships.

She said successful collaboration can be achieved through passion for the country and holding each other’s hands.

She applauded those who are paying the tourism levy for their good work which will in turn boost the industry.

She said women should continue building a legacy for the coming generations, adding that more work still needs to be done to attract more tourists into the country.

Motsamai urged the Lesotho Tourism Development Corporation (LTDC) to assist women to unlock more opportunities so as to stir up growth in the sector.

Gender Principal Secretary, ’Mamoeketsi Ntho, said as much as the tourism sector is contributing more to the economy, women in the sector are also exposed to abuse.

Ntho said studies had shown that tourism has the ability to transform livelihoods in collaboration with other ministries.

She said there is a strong value chain with other sectors which is impacted by tourism activities.

However, she said tourism has challenges which are associated with abuse.

She said women in this sector are being abused by tourists.

“Female travellers are also a major target of rape,” Ntho said.

She also mentioned the unwanted sexual advances to women working in the sector and those who are travellers.

Ntho said it is the responsibility of business owners to protect female travellers against abusers.

She said there are also women who are being trafficked in tourism.

“This is not only sexual harassment but also sexual exploration,” she said.

She said this in turn leads to sexually transmitted diseases.

The Managing Director at Rhythm and Blues Catering and the founder of Mahlakapese Guest House, Matšeliso Mokuoane, said it is important to work together especially with young entrepreneurs so that they can meet each other half-way.

Mokuoane said women should help each other instead of competing against one another.

Puseletso Putsoane from Vodacom Lesotho said most of our tourists come from outside the country.

Putsoane said for entrepreneurs to advertise their products even internally, technology is required.

She said entrepreneurs should connect with people who will help them with technology to get more exposure on how technology works.

Putsoane encouraged women to fully utilise social media platforms such as websites, Facebook and others.

“As Vodacom Lesotho, we are committed to help entrepreneurs not only with the internet but we have also established initiatives such as small business spotlights to help in the adoption of small businesses,” Putsoane said.

“We have technology that helps in reducing the cost while maximising the profits,” she said.

The LTDC boss, Retšelisitsoe Nko, said the tourism sector has great potential in achieving the National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP) II goals.

Therefore, he said, the LTDC is committed to supporting tourism.

According to studies, Nko said, women account for 58 percent in the hospitality industry.

“Women play a major role in attracting tourists in the country,” Nko said.

“This shows that women have the potential to boost the tourism sector in the country,” he said.

Refiloe Mpobole

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