Travelling has existed since time immemorial and is the oldest form of domestic tourism. To date, internal travelling continues to be the fundamental part of tourism which needs to be recognized, promoted and supported in Zimbabwe and other smaller economies.
Being a tourist does not require travelling to foreign destinations to attain that label. In fact, everyone has been a tourist in their own country at some point or the other without being aware of it. Every time you visit local attractions such as museums, patronize local hotels and restaurants, or when you support local festivals and events, you inadvertently become a domestic tourist supporting your local tourism industry, something which local authorities need to start paying attention to.
Why Domestic Tourism Matters
Unlike their foreign counterparts, domestic travellers are not susceptible to seasonality and other external factors such as currency fluctuations, economic downturns and political unrests. Supporting the development of a strong Domestic Tourism industry is necessary to provide a soft-landing cushion for the local industry against external shock-waves. The fact that a slight reduction in inbound tourism can result in tremendous setbacks to smaller economies whose tourism industries and revenue depend on foreign tourists is something that needs to be paid attention to and requires a serious rethink.
Although domestic tourism remains largely ignored and hardly acknowledged by most local tourism authorities, it does contribute towards the development of local tourism infrastructure. Another advantage is that less planning is required with no stressful travelling requirements necessary. Travel documentation such as passports, visas or currency conversion are not required for domestic tourists. The emphasis is on encouraging locals to explore their own backyard, travel more in their own country and familiarize themselves with local attractions that others pay huge amounts to come and see.
Benefits of Domestic Tourism
Although domestic tourism does not bring the much needed foreign currency into the country’s revenue coiffures, it nonetheless offers other benefits, some of which are listed below.
- Development and improvement of local infrastructure such as roads and airports.
- Improvement to existing services and products like accommodations and restaurants.
- Increased employment and in other areas, creation of employment opportunities.
- Foreign currency through Diasporans and all who support the Domestic Travel Initiative.
- Increased tax revenues from the new economic activity.
- Opportunity for locals to explore local attractions previously beyond their reach.
- Opportunity for domestic tourists, businesses and Tour Operators to benefit from this new contact and interaction.
- An opportunity for industry service providers to be creative and develop new packages targeting the new demographic of travellers previously not recognized or acknowledged.
Characteristics of Domestic Tourism
- Destinations are nearer and within close proximity. This makes travelling more convenient, less stressful with travelling time reduced.
- Easy accessibility means land transportation becomes the most preferred mode of travelling.
- Close proximity and accessibility reduces the cost of travel. Cheaper and affordability translates to more frequent and repeat visits, longer stays and spending.
- Domestic tourists are familiar with the destination, local languages, culture and laws. They also relate to the local climate.
For the Domestic Tourism initiative to succeed, it will require total commitment, participation and support from the Ministry of Tourism, businesses and all major stakeholders within the industry. Drastic measures may have to be adopted and implemented including:
- Aggressive promotion of the initiative by the Ministry and its surrogates
- A need to develop and grow the domestic market which has great potential to succeed if properly executed.
- The Ministry should take the lead in promoting domestic tourism in the country and within the Diaspora community which is the largest potential market eager to support the initiative provided the price is right and affordable.
Finally, encouraging locals to patronize local attractions provides an opportunity for them to have fun exploring and re-discovering their country’s rich history, heritage and culture. Above all, it fosters a culture of tourism among Zimbabweans and a sense of pride in their nation.
Ready to explore? Unleash the wanderlust in you! Explore, experience, discover your backyard.