An Exploration of Domestic Tourism as a Driver for Sustainable Tourism Development in Zimbabwe
Domestic tourism as a study area has been largely ignored in developing countries. As such the study sought to explore mechanisms for optimising the exploitation of domestic tourism for sustainable tourism development in Zimbabwe. Using a qualitative approach based on personal in depth interviews with twenty tourism suppliers and twenty five tourists, primary data was collected. Observations, document reviews and netnography were used to compliment the interviews. A combination of cluster and convenience sampling techniques were applied. Thereafter convenience was followed. The data collected was thematically analysed with the aid of NVivo 11 and presented using graphs, pictures, tables, charts and verbatim quotes. Key findings were that Zimbabweans were active domestic tourists though to a lesser extent with identifiable destination preferences, activities, travelling times and travellingparties, sources of income and expenditure patterns. The study also pointed out that there are developments taking place in the tourism industry and other industries that are affecting sustainable tourism development in the country. The developments were noted in the nature of attractions on offer, nature of transport systems, nature of business models being adopted, the regulatory framework at work and nature of infrastructure in and around the tourism industry. Both tourists and suppliers agreed that domestic tourism affects sustainable tourism development positively and negatively. Positives were noted in destination exposition where well informed local people act as information bureaus, tourism ambassadors, role models and tour guides. There is also increased destination appreciation where local people are engaged in active participation as domestic tourists, there is high tolerance of tourists and touristic conduct by local people, exhibition of pride in ownership of attractions and destinations, destination management and development and growth of tourists from micro informal domestic tourists to macro formal tourists. Positives were also noted in retaining attraction authenticity and economic development of destinations. Negatives were observed through destination destruction and minimal expenditures by domestic tourists whilst on holiday. Thus as mechanisms for developing and promoting domestic tourism, the study unravelled the need to involve stakeholders, advertise tourism products and services, meaningful investment in the tourism industry, stabilisation of the macro-economic environment of the country, niche marketing, stabilisation of the political environment, proper and reasonable pricing of tourism productsand services, develop and utilise tourism ambassadors, have travel assurances, proper management of tourism resources and encouragement of group travel as the key strategies. After taking into account all the stakeholders’ views on the phenomenon of domestic tourism and sustainable tourism development that included the state of domestic tourism (chapter 4), the sustainability of tourism development (chapter 5), the contribution of domestic tourism to sustainable tourism development (chapter 6) the mechanisms for the development and promotion of domestic tourism (chapter 7) and proposed domestic tourism stakeholder participation model (chapter 8) and the conclusion to the study was presented in chapter 9. Evidence from the study unravelled what seemed to be pillars for optimisation of domestic tourism’s contribution to sustainable tourism development. In sum these pillars serve as mechanisms that are critical for driving sustainable tourism development. The five mechanisms that emerged as critical are measured investment in tourism resources on demand, active stakeholder participation, creation of an enabling environment, institutionalisation of local area tourism ambassadors and formulation of visitor friendly pricing system. When one looks closely at the interconnectedness of the key mechanisms it points to the need to propose a model or theory for an in-depth understanding of the imperatives of sustainable tourism development through domestic tourism. That is the STAKEHOLDER PARTICIPATION MODEL/THEORY. The basic tenet of this theory or model is that in order to optimise the exploitation of domestic tourism for sustainable tourism development there is need to energise the complementarity of the measured investment in tourism resources on demand, active stakeholder participation, creation of an enabling environment, institutionalisation of local area tourism ambassadors and formulation of visitor friendly pricing system (MACIF). This theory is an extension of the stakeholder theory which seemingly fails to explain comprehensively the processes inherent in driving sustainable tourism development through domestic tourism. In essence the stakeholder theory only illuminates on the importance of considering key stakeholders in planning and executing sustainable tourism development.