National Photobank as a Nation Brand Engine
October 25, 2022
Have you considered the Kingdom of Lesotho on your travel bucket list? “Why”, you must be wondering. Did you know that the Kingdom of Lesotho has the highest lowest point in the world? This lies along Maphutseng River and Mekaling stream in the Mohale’s Hoek district in Lesotho at a breathtaking area of Morifi. There are many hidden jewels in this Kingdom in the Sky located in southern Africa and enclaved within South Africa. There are many hidden jewels in this Kingdom in the Sky located in southern Africa and enclaved within South Africa.
It emerged at a recent consultative session on documenting tourist attraction sites, that even indigenous Basotho are none wiser on Lesotho’s gems. These places included the scenic Sehlaba-Thebe, clean waters of the Qiloane Falls, the caves full of Khoi-San paintings. For some, this was the first time to see these places and could not relate their exquisiteness to their own backyards.
The Tourism PhotoBank as a Solution
Therefore, I believe documenting these places and selling the idea of the Kingdom of Lesotho as a self-poised brand would positively alter the notion of this kingdom being a hidden gem. Lesotho is a terrestrial beauty awaiting to share her beautiful scenery, the mountainous and hilly water gushing landscapes of clean air and white waters with the world. This would position the country among the leading tourist attraction centres in the region and unlock the economic promise of the sector.
While there has been a baseline study on domestic tourism there is still limited research that profiles tourists, travel patterns, motivations, tourism products and services in Lesotho. A digital national photobank would bring more solid visitation data through engagement and interaction of tourists with the platform, making it easier to target and package the Lesotho tourism offer. The general hypothesis is that the National Photobank will create a more attractive platform to increase visitations, increase diversity of countries of origin for tourists as well as investment profile of the country. These aspects are crucial to unlocking the country’s domestic, regional and international tourism potential and developing appropriate tourism products and strategies that can help compensate the losses and restrictions that were experienced due to COVID 19.
The UNDP AccLab Lesotho is partnering with the Ministry of Tourism, Environment and Culture, Lesotho Tourism Development Corporation, Limkokwing University of Creative Technology, Lerotholi Polytechnic and the Tourism Private Sector players to document tourist attraction sites and assets into a Lesotho National Attractions Photobank. This is expected to open new avenues for a gainful engagement of the rural dwellers, casual and habitual sightseers and the informal sector by sharing knowledge and experiences of Lesotho locations. Further, this may generate value for tourists centres in the country by offering platforms for new tourism products and services in these areas. The photobank will also facilitate transmission and preservation of the ancestral wisdom and intelligence attached to some historical sites, to complement Lesotho’s cultural tourism offer. This documentation will also assist in the promotion of domestic travel and assist the Lesotho’s tourism sector recover from the adverse effect of COVID-19.
Will the photobank change the current situation and unearth hidden attraction sites? Will the bank bring a new avenue of tourism investment and employment creation in the Kingdom? The experiment seeks to bring this to light. Whether the hypothesis is positive will be dependent on the virtual exposure of the beauty of the Kingdom and perceptions that this will create.
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