By Byron Mutingwende
Domestic tourism is one of the segments of tourism that plays a vital role in any country’s tourism development, sector players have said.
This is espoused in the fact that tourism is a key economic sector that has the potential to contribute towards economic growth and development. It is a service sector at the end of the value chain, which relies on the support of key enablers such as transport, information communication technologies and banking among others.
Givemore Chidzidzi, the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) Chief Operating Officer, at a stakeholders’ brainstorming meeting at New Ambassador Hotel in Harare on 18 January 2018 said the domestic tourism campaign was part of the government’s 100-day initiative towards economic revival.
“With the positive developments in the country, the ZTA sees an opportunity for domestic tourism market to be revived. The campaign is aimed at increasing domestic travel, creating interest and hype on the local tourism products,” Chidzidzi said.
Zimbabwe has an abundance of tourism products. These range from the natural museums and monuments to the mighty Vicoria Falls which is one of the seven wonders of the world to Great Zimbabwe Ruins, Chinhoyi Caves, the Eastern Highlands, Kariba Dam and Matopos hills just to mention a few.
Domestic tourism is one of the segments of tourism that plays a vital role in any country’s tourism development. Globally, the number of domestic arrivals is estimated to exceed four times the number of international arrivals.
However, due to exorbitant prices of local tourism products, which are out of reach of many due to economic hardships, most locals tend to shun tourism because of lack of awareness on its importance and consider it a luxury and a preserve for the wealthy.
“There is need to craft strategies to improve the performance of local tourism by making locals to participate as tourists or operators who provide jobs to address unemployment. Domestic tourism is low. There should be efforts to make sure locals enjoy the tourism products. We should create an interest and hype on both known and unknown tourism products. We can develop promotional routes and rates and packages to attract locals,” Chidzidzi said.
There was agreement that awareness should be raised among the public to the effect that tourism is not about a huge income. It can be done if people develop a culture of saving. There was an outcry over the proliferation of unlicensed tour operators who do not pay taxes and are not subjected to ZTA regulations and standards. This has a negative impact on the economy and general tourism standards.
Domestic tourism helps to maintain the sustainability of the country’s tourism industry by generating a tourism market whereby people able to travel despite lack of interest from foreign markets. It creates tourism awareness and a tourism culture within the country, providing the people with a greater understanding and appreciation of what their country has to offer. It instills a sense of pride in its citizens. There is still a significant resistance in many countries when it comes to the development of domestic tourism, so both the benefits and constraints of the sector must be looked into.
In the past decades, the tourism industry has been characterised by low participation of locals in leisure tourism, expensive product offering, limited product knowledge and lack of affordable domestic packages. A Domestic Tourism Campaign will increase the awareness and the product knowledge of destination Zimbabwe amongst the locals. The campaign will be rolled out within the 100 days of the new dispensation. In his first cabinet address, His Excellency, the President of Zimbabwe emphasised clear performance targets on key issues to be tackled within 100-day cycle, setting the trajectory for the economic turnaround.
Zimbabwe’s domestic tourism market sustained the tourism industry during the years of international tourism decline from the traditional source markets partly due to the economic sanctions and travel warnings and bans as well as access problems. The domestic tourism market has untapped potential growth given the number of international trips undertaken by the Zimbabwean populace.
The dawn of a new era has boosted a sense of pride amongst Zimbabweans. The campaign is set to further boost their sense of pride and encourage Zimbabweans to explore and discover attractions that are within their reach. Consumption of local tourism products by locals also encourages circulation of money in the economy.