The Lesotho Tourism Development Corporation, with funding from the World Bank local affiliate, Private Sector Competitive Project (PSC) is developing a comprehensive star grading programme for the accommodation sector.The programme will be officially launched on June 30, Lesotho is also the first country to adopt the southern Africa Harmonised Accommodation Grading Programme that was developed by the Regional Tourism Organization of Southern Africa (RETOSA).
Team leader for the project, James MacGregor, said the programme would be a critical component for improving the overall quality of tourism accommodation in Lesotho and consequently increasing overnight stay. “Current accommodation quality does not match the excellent natural, historical and cultural heritage resources of the country and consequently the Kingdom does not achieve its full tourism potential,” said MacGregor.
The Grading Council will be established within the LTDC but will eventually become a separate, self-sufficient entity operating independently of LTDC. In the short term the council will include a grading co-ordinator, a master assessor, and will receive marketing, public relations and secretarial support from current LTDC staff.
Tsepang Hatase, the project coordinator from the LTDC said the accommodation grading programme was a progressive approach to upgrading the quality of lodging services to an international level.
MacGregor said there would be six categories of accommodation: hotel, guesthouse, lodge, self-service accommodation, B+B, campgrounds. Each will be graded based on approximately 250 standards. He said many major components of the development of the grading programme had already been completed, including a review of a number of facilities throughout the country; the successful delivery of six regional workshops to accommodation suppliers; an intensive three-week training course of 30 assessors; the design of a website specifically for the graded properties, the training and selection of a new master assessor; and the preparation of a communication strategy.
MacGregor said the availability of graded properties would send a strong message to the marketplace that there were quality facilities throughout the country, thus encouraging greater interest from the travel trade and consumers.
He said the exceptional turnout at workshops and meetings with accommodation suppliers had indicated a sincere interest in launching the star grading programme. “The timing seems right, industry support is evident and the demand for a star grading programme is apparent if Lesotho is to achieve its full tourism development potential.”