OVER 60% of workers in Lesotho's hotel and tourism industry are women. According to a survey conducted by the Lesotho Tourism Development Corporation (LTDC) in 2022, women dominate the workforce in the accommodation sector, accounting for 60.7% of the total workforce.
Nov. 7, 2023
5 min read
Lesotho women dominate hospitality, tourism sectors
President of WITLA, Matšeliso Mokuoane
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In contrast, males make up 39.3% of the workforce in this sector.
Therefore, it comes as no surprise that women in the tourism sector are working tirelessly to ensure the growth of the industry.
Through their association, dubbed the Women in Tourism Lesotho Association (WITLA), incorporation with the LTDC will be holding the 2nd WITSA Summit & Expo.
This is a business networking and mentorship platform where experts from Africa and beyond will be unpacking all things entrepreneurship, women and youth empowerment, technology, and tourism value chains, under the theme "Accelerating economic growth through tourism value chains.
This three-day summit, to be held at the ’Manthabiseng Convention Centre in Maseru from November 27 - 29, aims to attract more tourists through preservation of natural resources.
According to the acting public management director at LTDC, Molapo Matela, the event aims to promote sustainability in the tourism sector, with a focus on preserving natural resources to ensure long-term economic growth.
“We all have a lot to gain from alternative forms of tourism, including sustainable forms. The best places for sustainable tourism to be developed are regions with natural resources, landscapes, or cultural buildings—all features that attract tourists, which they might want to explore and admire local destinations and cultures in an environmentally friendly way,” he said.
For her part, the president of WITLA, Matšeliso Mokuoane said last year, the LTDC, with support from the private sector and tourism businesses, held a conference at the same venue intended to honour and applaud industrious women in tourism, which birthed WITLA.
“The conference motivated tourism businesses to establish the WITLA, which bid to host the Women in Tourism Southern Africa (WITSA) Exhibition and Conference 2023 and got the opportunity to do so. WITLA is a women-owned association that was established in August 2022; however, it was legally registered in February 2023 under the Societies Act of Lesotho.”
Mokuoane explained that the association has over 200 members that encompass women owning and operating businesses in all tourism sub-sectors within the country.
She further mentioned that the summit is expected to host between 400 and 500 delegates and will be attended by women in business, local and international buyers, exhibitors, ministers of tourism, investors, business leaders, tourism board directors, SADC secretariat directors, AU-APRM executives, corporate executives and managers, funding institution managers, and academia.“This second prestigious summit in the mountain kingdom of Lesotho is anticipated to have around 50 international exhibitors and representatives from 15 countries, and it aims at stimulating the under-utilised Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions (MICE) sector in Lesotho, which can contribute to the economy of Lesotho,” she said.
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A presentative of the Circle of Global Business Women Lesotho (CGBW), Belinah ’Manapo Makhele, said she is part of a non-profit entity that aims to empower women.
Thus, she expressed their desire to collaborate with the women attending the summit, adding that women are the best at hospitality, making tourism an added advantage in their hands.
Makhele believes that with proper education, women can thrive in this sector.
“I believe the summit will promote the Lesotho brand regionally, to other African countries, and to potential investors. The summit is also going to make Lesotho’s local brands known regionally and expand to other African countries and internationally, as well as to potential investors. Snowball effect in the tourism, travel, and hospitality sectors, benefiting tour operators, tour guides, accommodation facilities, food and beverages, artisans and crafters, traditional performances, etc. Thus, direct and indirect job opportunities will be created, and ultimately, revenue will be generated during the summit.
"The summit is also expected to create a platform for businesses to network with like-minded entrepreneurs and share knowledge that can enhance and benefit their businesses. Our youth will be given the opportunity to market and sell their products, as well as network and form business linkages with their SADC counterparts,” she said.
Mamello Morojele of the LTDC indicated that the LTDC is an arm of government mandated to market Lesotho as a tourism destination internationally and domestically and to also develop tourism in the country in partnership with the private sector and host communities.
“This we do whilst ensuring that the tourism business sector gets to grow and acquires sustainability in finance for tourism activities, investments, and services to all end users.”
For the LTDC, regional summits and international conferences present invaluable opportunities for Lesotho to be a preferred holiday destination for the MICE sector. The Corporation rallies behind private sector efforts to host tourism summits like the WITLA Conference.
“The event will ensure that it uplifts the women of Lesotho by giving them a platform to promote and transact and also exposes them to available business opportunities that they can utilise. Moreover, the summit is going to play a big role in achieving the milestones of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), especially SDG 5: Gender equality,” Morojele said.
By bringing together key stakeholders, sharing knowledge, and fostering collaboration, the conference aims to create a roadmap for a more inclusive, diverse, and prosperous tourism sector where women can thrive.