COVID-19 closes hotels in Lesotho – CAJ News Africa

from REHABILITATED SELLO in Leribe, Lesotho
Lesotho Office
LERIBE, (CAJ News) SOME hotels in Lesotho have been forced to close as the tourism sector continues to bear the brunt of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

This has led to job losses and pay cuts as those who remain in business struggle to stay afloat.

Among those who lost their jobs was Mamphaka Ralehlathe, who worked for five years as a guesthouse manager.

The facility could not survive the lockdown measures and travel restrictions put in place by the government to curb the pandemic which was first reported in the country in May 2020.

In an exclusive interview with CAJ News AfricaRalehlathe said hotel management promised to call affected employees in case they reopened, but that didn’t happen.

She is struggling to find another job in the context of the prevailing unemployment situation in the country.

The unemployment rate in Lesotho is expected to reach 24.40% by the end of 2021.

“Tourism has lost its value. It will only survive the disappearance of COVID-19,” Ralehlathe lamented.

The district of Leribe, located in the south of Lesotho, is among the areas experiencing a decline in tourism.

Palesa Phasumane, deputy tourism officer for the region, said that since the pandemic, tourists from outside the country have been showing up in smaller numbers, leading to the closure of most accommodation establishments.

She said most hotels normally generate revenue from international tourism, but due to the massive drop in arrivals, those that remain operational are struggling to survive.

During the recent December holidays, people who entered the country were for visits and not for tourism purposes.

“The accommodation structures that have survived are those that serve the government by hosting workshops,” Phasumane said exclusively. CAJ News Africa.

In an interview, an owner of the accommodation facility, who chose to remain anonymous, said the facility was in financial dire straits.

“We don’t even know what strategies to apply to recover,” the owner said.

He said only domestic tourists showed up during the festive season, but in limited numbers.

Meanwhile, makers of items such as traditional hats and mats that are popular with tourists are also struggling.

Households headed by women, who are in the majority in handicrafts, are the most affected.

Lesotho has recorded a total of 32,049 cases including 690 deaths at press time.

– CAJ News

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