Open access peer-reviewed chapter

Contribution of Domestic Tourism to Sustainable Tourism Development

Written By

Forbes Kabote

Submitted: 16 June 2020 Reviewed: 19 August 2020 Published: 01 December 2020

DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.93646

From the Edited Volume


Edited by Syed Abdul Rehman Khan

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Tourism literature is awash with evidence of the value of domestic tourism to the tourism industry in general. However; there is limited knowledge of how domestic tourism is contributing towards sustainable tourism development especially in developing countries. This study explored the contribution of domestic tourism to sustainable tourism development in Zimbabwe, one developing country in Southern Africa. Using qualitative methodologies, data were collected and thematically analysed. The study revealed that domestic tourism has both positive and negative contributions to sustainable tourism development in unique ways. In conclusion, it was noted that without domestic tourism, Zimbabwe as a tourism destination would be struggling to grow its tourism product offering and expand its market share on the global tourism market.


  • tourism marketing
  • tourism value
  • destination management
  • Zimbabwe

1. Introduction

This chapter explores the contribution of domestic tourism to sustainable tourism development. In depth, interviews with 25 domestic tourists and 20 tourism suppliers from Harare, Bulawayo, Victoria Falls and Kariba revealed positive and negative contributions of domestic tourism to sustainable tourism development. Positive contributions of domestic tourism to sustainable tourism development were in the form of destination exposition, destination appreciation and economic development. Notable negative contributions were on destination degradation and low economic value.


2. Positive contributions of domestic tourism to sustainable tourism development

Positive contributions are those facets that seem to be adding value to the long-term sustenance of the destination and the tourism industry. A number of positive contributions portray domestic tourism as a vital dimension upon which to attain sustainable tourism development. These include destination exposition, destination appreciation and economic development.

2.1 Destination exposition

Destination exposition is when a community plays a part in ensuring that the destination becomes popular within and outside the local community. Well-travelled local people expose destinations visited to other tourism stakeholders such as inbound tourists, potential investors and government departments. According to Bessière [1], knowledgeable local people have a habit of taking new people who visit an area to local attractions they are familiar with. For example, David Livingstone was shown Mosi-oa-Tunya by knowledgeable local people [2]. He later wrote about it and renamed it to Victoria Falls. Today Victoria Falls is among a number of attractions that were exposed to foreigners by well-informed local people. Destinations like Victoria Falls and the wildlife sanctuaries around it became key attractions and destinations to regional and international tourists to Zimbabwe [2].

In order to expose tourism destinations to the outside world, domestic tourists assume various positions and functions within the tourism industry such as being information bureaus, ambassadors, role models and tour guides to attractions and destinations within their communities.

2.1.1 Domestic tourists as information bureaus

Domestic tourists act as information rich, well-researched and travelled unofficial information bureaus to potential tourists both domestic and international (see [3, 4]). They provide informal information through word of mouth and personal experiences that is not regulated, not packaged, free, available anywhere and anytime to both active and potential tourists. Domestic tourists as information bureaus are not place and time restricted providing inbound tourists with alternative sources of information.

Inbound tourists rely on unprocessed information gained through word of mouth when making travel decisions as they believe it to be the truth as compared to neatly packaged information from official information bureaus (see [5]). Tourists become more informed on the prevailing environment at the destinations keeping them up to date with changes that might affect their tourism experience. In so doing they become informed travellers which is critical for tourism development.

2.1.2 Domestic tourists as tourism ambassadors

Local people who travel outside their country become default tourism ambassadors when called upon to talk about tourism in their country to people they meet outside their usual area of residence [6]. Local people leave the country temporarily or permanently.

As temporary travellers, local people need to know their country better to allow them to answer any question foreigners may ask. This way they would be able to sell their country by giving factual information based on the personal experience. Such information on destinations and attractions generates curiosity among the foreigners who would want to visit the country in future widening the tourism base for the destination country.

Local people have also migrated to other countries in search of wealth and found value in foreign lands. In the case of Zimbabwe, these are the bulk that visits Zimbabwean destinations during their own holidays as international tourists. This implies that when they left the country they did not have sufficient resources which could be used for tourism purposes but now can afford to travel for tourism purposes. This is better understood through Reed’s [7] insights derived from African Americans born of slave trade parents who see tourism to Africa as an opportunity to connect with their past. Diasporeans visit local attractions along with friends and relatives to whom they explain their own experiences in foreign lands and how foreigners travel in their own country and abroad. This would inspire local people to also want to travel creating a strong foundation for future tourism from both domestic and international tourists.

Diasporians usually visit renowned destinations that their foreign friends hear, talk, enquire about and probably have visited in the past. This allows them to familiarise themselves with these destinations in order to convince their foreign friends that they too know their own country. However, fairly unknown destinations are also popular with domestic tourists.

Some tour operators believe that if well advertised to domestic tourists, small destinations have potential to have large volumes of tourists both domestic and internationals through referrals. This draws a comparison between efforts being employed by authorities in advertising small and big destinations in the country. There is too much attention on big destinations that are frequented by international tourists at the expense of small destinations common with domestic tourists. This deliberate neglect of small destination development is counter sustainable tourism development as domestic tourists are known as more influential in building future tourists to any destination through referrals (see [8]). The others would feel being left out and also visit these places to experience them for themselves expressing the egoistic tendencies inherent among human beings (see [9]).

2.1.3 Domestic tourists as role models

Domestic tourists also assume the position of role models and ones to set the pace for inbound tourists by first visiting local attractions and destinations. This creates curiosity among potential tourists from other areas who would also want to visit these attractions and destinations. The trend of inbound tourists following domestic tourists supports Hudson and Ritchie’s [8] argument that domestic tourism provides the bedrock for sustainable tourism development in any destination as more tourists are inspired to visit the local destination in future.

2.1.4 Domestic tourists as tour guides

Through domestic tourism local people assume tour guiding roles. Knowledgeable local people lead inbound tourists around showing them local attractions every time they receive visitors not familiar with the local attractions. The provision of tour guiding services by local people reinforces information sharing through social exchange (see [10]). This gives a positive image of the conduct of local people which inbound tourists would take back home, share with friends and relatives widening the base for future tourism to the destination.

2.2 Destination appreciation

Attraction and destination attractiveness is built by the people who see value in the attraction and destination, retain the value and sell it so that others would also appreciate them (see [11, 12]). Host communities seem to share similar views in that Zimbabweans have developed a higher level of appreciating beauty in objects they used to take for granted. The various views seem to agree on a number of ways in which destinations are appreciated by the stakeholders. Destination appreciation is exhibited through local people being active participants in tourism, their degree of tolerance, conduct of stakeholders at destinations, sense of ownership, management style and the development of tourists.

2.2.1 Active participation

Well-travelled local people help form a stakeholder inclusive tourism industry that guarantees customer satisfaction preparing ground for future tourists to the destination in tandem with the stakeholder theory [13]. Informed local people have become more welcoming to the tourists as they appreciate them more through active participation in tourism as tourees or tourists. Local people see more value in hosting tourists in their communities. They see value in sharing information, ideas and experiences. They know what kind of stories to share with tourists and where to take them. They even have an appreciation of the different tourists’ expectations hence they are better prepared to handle them.

Unlike in the past where travelling was restricted and associated with foreigners especially those from the west, these days there is a notable paradigm shift where an increasing number of local people are participating in tourism. Over the years, local people have come to realise the economic and social value of tourism for their communities and themselves through interaction with foreigners, observing them going on holidays and their psychological needs and desire to understand the environment in which people live in and how they came to be what they are.

This implies that travelling for leisure is contagious (see [14]). When people talk about their experiences or excitedly show off pictures and souvenirs obtained during their holidays, they inspire others to also want to travel. In the process, everyone will become part of the wave as people seek to be seen as moving along with times and being modernised. Modernisation theory which argues that everyone seeks to leave behind old obsolete ways of life to modern inspiring ways of life (see [15]) better explains this thrust.

2.2.2 Tolerance

During domestic tourism, people go to new places they are not familiar with where they interact with people whose way of life they do not know. They make friends with some even getting married. The development of long-term relationships during the interaction from being pure strangers to general friends into marriage partners reinforces the arguments of the uncertainty reduction theory as applied in tourism (see [16, 17]). This cements a once sceptical relationship with unfamiliar people, customs and values into a common ground or contact upon which future travellers to these places make use of. This increases the tourists’ confidence to engage with the hosts fully aware that they have some common ground upon which to build better relationships.

However, it is not easy to build such relationships especially in a multilingual countries, for example in Zimbabwe there 16 official languages [18]. Language ignorance and counter accusations between different ethnicities aggravate animosity between domestic tourists and host communities especially when one visits areas that do not speak the same language as that of the tourist (see [19]). However, with more combined efforts, such diversity can be turned around into an advantage where the ethnic groups would visit each other as domestic tourists. This would help ethnic groups to better appreciate each other and hence lead to societal integration, peace and nation building. A situation that is ideal for tourism development in any country as tourists do not want to visit volatile destinations that they perceive as risky (see [20]).

2.2.3 Tourists conduct

Host communities were able to distinguish the attractions that appeals to international tourists compared to those that appeals to domestic tourists through their conduct. Foreigners are believed to have more respect and place more value on local attractions because they have more curiosity as compared to domestic tourists. The attraction is bound to be new and a spectacle to a foreigner; hence, it generates a lot of interest, the need to understand the phenomena and how the local people live with such spectacular attractions.

On the other hand, domestic tourists seem to be excited when exposed to new attractions they are not familiar with in their everyday life. Some families in big cities grew only exposed to urban settings without any exposure to the life outside towns hence they have greater desire to explore the countryside. To them, all the flora and fauna make an exciting encounter, hence the increase in photo safaris. With increasing value in the attractions from both domestic and international tourists, the need to conserve them increases aiding in attaining sustainable tourism development.

2.2.4 Ownership of attractions and destinations

Local people feel they are part of the local cultures on display. As such they develop greater respect for historical and cultural attractions as compared to foreign tourists (see [21]). This helps maintaining the curiosity of the inbound tourist. The differences in approach and understanding of local values and rituals have had effects on tourists and tourism. For example, in Zimbabwe, there are both domestic and international tourists that disappeared in Mount Nyangani making the mountain a dark tourism site.

To date, there is no agreed explanation as to how these people disappeared. According to Mupira [22], the scientific explanation points to quicksands believed to be burying people though it has not been proven so. On the contrary, local people attributed the disappearing of people to angry spirits (see [22]).

It seems though that both the tourists and local people believe the local people’s theories as exhibited by their actions. For example, before climbing Mount Nyangani, tourists consult local traditional leadership. The traditional leadership is perceived as the owners and custodians of local culture and values. The myths around the disappearance of people in Mount Nyangani present local communities with an opportunity to interact with inbound tourists. They use their knowledge of local systems as part of the broader national systems to share safety practices required by tourists for one to have a successful hike in the mountain. Knowledge exchange is based on indigenous knowledge systems [23] where local values need to be respected. Strict adherence to dos and do nots while at sacred places are agreed to as the best way of touring sacred places. Employment is created where local people act as tour guides for climbers where their knowledge of the area increases the success of such hikes. This would influence more climbers to visit this place in future knowing that it has become safer through engaging knowledgeable local people.

Dark tourism sites have gained international attention. People visit to experience the dark encounters and remember their loved ones who disappeared in these places. Some tourists will be trying to understand spirituality and ritualism practiced by local people believed to have power over what is happening at the sites (see [24]). Anthropologists will also seek explanations to the mysteries around the disappearance of people at these places. The continued polarisation of the two perceptions would keep the myth ongoing and the destination attracting more tourists.

In other incidences, through domestic tourism, local people have come to realise the value of resources available in their communities. This is a manifestation of the realisation that each area is unique in its offerings to the tourism industry and the need to have responsible local people. Host communities should take care of resources available within their communities by practicing sustainable resource utilisation, for example when fishing.

Domestic tourists felt that tourism was part of their heritage. This portrayed tourism as an inherent phenomenon that was practiced since time immemorial, visiting and enjoying the God-given attractions. However, the difference could be that unlike foreigners who travel and spend some days in some foreign land, domestic tourists do not cross international borders to be tourists. Instead, domestic tourists travel to get their mind together and in the process will be admiring nature and being healed by nature as tourists for the duration of their experience. Domestic tourists benefit personally from tourism just like their international counterparts. A situation which is better understood through the tourist gaze concept which argues that one does not necessarily need to spend at least a day away from home to be a tourist, but rather it is the engagement in touristic activities that makes one a tourist (see [25, 26]).

2.2.5 Destination management

To continue gaining tourism benefits, authorities that manage destinations especially dark tourism sites like Nyanga are investing more in scientific ways of ensuring the safety of tourists to these destinations. For example, to increase the safety of tourists to Mount Nyangani, the following may be adopted. Tourists to fully charge their cellular phones have torches with new batteries and spare batteries, be accompanied by a trained tour guide and encouraged to stick to walkways cleared by the authorities, avail and ensure all tourists wear reflective jackets, carry whistles and bells to aid in rescue mission in the event of someone disappearing.

Adherence to the rules is expected to maximise chances of successful trips and enjoyable experiences opening the destination to more risky averse tourists who are not comfortable visiting under the current conditions. These would visit in future as it becomes clearer through testimonies of how others have experienced dark tourism attraction site.

2.2.6 Development of tourists

Building on Urry and Larsen [26] tourist gaze concept, one can argue that domestic tourism is made up of various building blocks as local people appreciate the value of tourism and its healing power. This gives the impression that at first local people just walk around within their communities unaware that they are actually being tourists in the process, later they explore further afield before travelling internationally as ‘tourists’. Figure 1 shows the development stages and degree of tourism formalisation matrix.

Figure 1.

Tourist development and formalisation matrix.

Tourists undergo four stages of development that build on each other without clear cut off point but rather a gradual change. This is better appreciated through the lenses of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory [27] that argues that a satisfied need is no longer a motivator hence desire to go for another higher order unsatisfied need. Equally tourists start by exploring their local communities before going further afield. Through exposure they are motivated to explore more and further away from their local community and there is need for the right political and economic environment to prevail before that can happen.

The four stages identified in tourist development are when one is a backyard domestic tourist, micro domestic tourist, macro domestic tourist and international tourist.

2.2.7 Backyard domestic tourists

Backyard domestic tourists are local people who go out of their homes for some moments for leisure. They forget their everyday challenges without spending anything in tandem with the tourist gaze concept (see [26]). Everything being done at this stage is informal with people going out for different social reasons like managing domestic disputes as given by respondent 17 who said ‘When you have a problem even at home with Madam (wife) you go for a breath of fresh air’. This portrayed backyard domestic tourists as mainly individuals seeking to rest and in need of time to recollect themselves and strategise on challenges they are facing.

In backyard domestic tourism are also young couples hiding from communal eyes especially during courtship. Young people would wonder off the beaten path in search of privacy and seclusion. It is during these moments that attractions are discovered as people wonder off from home. These new attractions become the bedrock of future tourism as tourists graduate from backyard purely informal domestic tourists towards formal international tourists going beyond their own country’s borders.

2.2.8 Micro domestic tourists

Micro domestic tourists are local people who would be fully aware of attractions within their locality. They would take time to visit them. They would take along friends and relatives who would have visited them but not familiar with local attractions. Local people would explain to the visitors the various stories associated with the attractions. Some would even take their families for a day visit at these attractions for picnics [25].

At this stage local people would also visit official tourism sites located within their communities where they will have to pay to access the attraction. Thus, as one goes up from being a backyard domestic tourist towards being an international tourist, they become more formal. However, at this stage, local people would be spending the day out and come back the same day. Distance covered is subject to the exact location of the attraction though distance is not the key variable but the activities one does during that time when they are tourists. Typically they are recognised in tourism as excursionists though Urry and Larsen [26] and Cohen and Cohen [28] describe them as informal domestic tourists whilst Canavan [25] refers to them as micro domestic tourists.

2.2.9 Macro domestic tourists

On the third level are the macro domestic tourists who take their time to visit attractions within their country but beyond their locality. They spend some time travelling to and from the destination and within the destination [25].

Apart from the attraction, these tourists also need such facilities like guest houses, lodges, hotels and restaurants. They spend at least a day at the destination to enjoy. They pay for almost everything they need to use and enjoy at the destination contributing to the formal tourism industry. At this stage, all they do is formal qualifying them to be called domestic tourists as they are restricted within the boundaries of the country.

2.2.10 International tourists

The fourth and last stage is when tourists are now travelling beyond the boundaries of their country making them international tourists. At this stage, everything is formal and demands for proper planning and coordination as the people would need to cross borders, deal with foreigners, use foreign language and face unfamiliar economic, political and social environment.

The four stages of tourist development give insights into how domestic tourism can be nurtured according to the resource base of the various tourists. Those with minimal income being encouraged to stick to recreation at local attractions like community recreation areas. Whilst those with more money are encouraged to explore their country further before going international.

When local people evolve from backyard domestic tourists to international tourists they tend to have a better understanding of tourism and tourism resources. As a result they register behaviour change where they become active participants in tourism resource conservation aiding in environmental sustainable tourism development of the destination. Local people would come together and work with other interested parties to conserve nature for their own good and the good of others, present and future generations inclusive ensuring that tourism will thrive into the future satisfying the intergeneration sustainability of the tourism industry. Figure 2 explains how local people and other organisations are working together in conservation.

Figure 2.

Example of mutual effort in conservation.

This gives a community based resource management approach that all stakeholders are part of. With all conservation resources being donated by others, local people will also see value in the same resources as they also seek to understand why someone from as far as Australia would be interested in saving their God given natural resources. Tourism resources are protected from potential threats like poachers ensuring their continued existence into the future. At the same time allowing for coordinated harvesting of such resources in a manner that benefits all stakeholders through such facilities like CAMPFIRE (Figure 3).

Figure 3.

CAMPFIRE activities on resource management in Zimbabwe.

Communities have benefitted from resources within their vicinity through infrastructural developments and employment creation [29]. This has motivated communities to conserve the resources that will benefit future stakeholders.

Accessibility concerns which can take the form of roads, rail, air, information, technology are real and of concern especially in remote destinations. With rural areas offering the bulk of tourist attractions Government is under pressure to make them accessible as a way of improving tourism (see [30]). Local people have structures designed to address their concerns. These include local councils, members of parliament and relevant ministries. Addressing accessibility concerns will benefit both present and future domestic and international tourists to the destination as the infrastructure developed to support them will last for some time and have long term effects to the communities and the tourism industry.

Domestic tourism allows local people to understand the different cultures among the indigenous people of a country. Tourists now understand that one has to enjoy the differences than destroy the other people and their culture. They should also help to conserve the other culture for everyone to enjoy from such cultures in future.

2.3 Attraction authenticity

Attraction authenticity is when an attraction remains consistent over time offering same benefits in the same manner as originally presented. On its own, Zimbabwe is believed to be a sustainable tourism destination as it still has its attractions intact. Zimbabwe still has its culture, flora, fauna, food, mountains and rivers unadulterated through modernisation. For example, animals are still available in the natural wilderness not zoos.

The continued practices of traditional cultures provide cultural tourists with essential attractions to enjoy. In the process allowing them to time travel back into the days when the same cultures were experienced by their forefathers through re-enactment of the experiences and listening to stories about the cultures (see [7]). Serving organic foods creates demand from healthy conscious tourists and food tourists. Making Zimbabwe a dream destination to visit that will satisfy their needs.

There are many other natural attractions available in the country that domestic tourists have helped to develop and maintain for the benefit of both current and future stakeholders. Even after the historic fast track land reform programme, there are new farmers who are investing in wildlife conservation as Zimbabweans realise that wild animals have more value from the tourism industry than just having meat. One such investor said:

I wanted to venture into game parking industry so I wanted to learn more about animals which can survive in this climate in Zimbabwe so I could adopt knowledge. I have a small area where the former white farmer used to have a game reserve that I want to revive (Domestic Tourist 7).

These actions are indicative of a people that have realised their mistakes. Mistakes of destroying once vibrant game reserves and now have to revive them. This is indicative of the weaknesses of the fast track land reform programme. The programme that was adopted without due diligence on the possible short-, medium- and long term implications on communities and other stakeholders like the flora and fauna in the former white owned farms [31] which has bearing on environmental and economic sustainability of sustainable tourism development in the country.

In addition domestic tourists are helping in the discovery of new attractions with tourism value potential for the industry when they give feedback as to how visitor facilities and experiences may be improved, provide information that links different tourism sites in different parts of the country to give a complete story on available attractions.

By alerting authorities to the existence of local attractions with potential value to the tourism industry, domestic tourists are perceived as helpful in the development of tourism resource base enriching the tourism basket. Stories of how places are connected and developed establishing trails that help explain movements of earlier inhabitants of the country. For example through carbon dating, archaeological studies and fork tales educationists have been able to link Great Zimbabwe ruins in Zimbabwe with Mapungubwe Ruins in South Africa and many other ruins in Zimbabwe. As having been built by people of same origin that shared same ancestry. From cultural trails, authorities will be able to develop tourism trails through the related facilities providing a complete tour package to tourists interested in such related attractions and generating more economic benefits and enriching the social fabric of the local people hence aiding in the economic and social sustainability of the destination.

2.4 Economic development

Domestic tourism is a key driver of local economic development in destination regions [32, 33, 34]. The economic benefits of domestic tourism are felt everywhere where people visit and congregate for some time. Economic benefits cuts across informal and formal domestic tourism with some being direct whilst others are indirect.

Local economy is sustained by combined investment and expenditure of local and incoming visitors. Domestic tourists use money to buy tourism goods and services like artefacts to take back home from vendors, sleep in hotels, eat in restaurants and undertake activities. Profits generated are expected to benefit the local community through Corporate Social Responsibility by having tourism organisations donating to the local communities. Once happy with income from tourism the local communities would embrace tourism in their community making tourists feel welcome in these areas and reduce animosity and hostility towards the tourism industry. This situation is better understood through Doxey’s Irridex Model (1975) where host communities and tourists interaction is normally antagonistic at first but improves as trust between the parties improves through continued interaction and flow of mutual benefits.

Profits generated in a destination are also expected to be used to develop the destination. Unfortunately it seems there is mismatch between what people believe they are paying for and what they are seeing on the ground. Interestingly local authorities were observed taking action such as repaired all the roads, filling pot holes and sometimes resurfacing a whole stretch. Street lights that last worked years ago were repaired. New bins were bought and placed at strategic places all over town. Grass was cut, rubbish picked from lawns and streets and regular refuse collection was done leaving the town clean.

These activities clearly show that the authorities have the ability to make the situation better in destinations but have little regard for the ordinary citizen and or tourist. Despite that they need the support of both local people and tourists to survive. This call for a massive paradigm shift in the way local authorities manage councils and provide services to both local people and tourists.

On the other hand, having MICE tourism whether domestic or international graced by the President helps in improving service delivery at destinations. The facilities presumably put to impress the President will remain well after the President has left to benefit the local people and the tourists. The image of the destinations will positively change in the minds of the future tourist who find the destination in an improved condition after the President’s visit [35]. Taking with them positive perceptions of the destination to be shared back home.

Domestic tourists were also observed as keen lovers of traditional food items. As such, hotels and restaurants that offer such food items have to get them from local producers. Tourism financial resources will be spread to these communities expanding the reach of tourism income ripple effects in the destination region. Thus, almost everyone will feel and enjoy the value of tourism through indirect and direct benefits. This persuades them to continue supporting the tourism industry to ensure its sustainable growth.


3. Negative contributions of domestic tourism

Negative contributions are the negative impacts to sustainability of the tourism industry attributed to domestic travel. Zimbabweans who travel to various destinations have been blamed for a number of negative impacts they had on local attractions and destinations with potential to affect the long-term sustainability of the destinations. These were attraction destruction and minimal expenditure.

3.1 Attraction destruction

Conflicts have arisen in destinations as domestic tourists were seen destroying attractions. Domestic tourists have been to attractions that have been declared heritage sites and hence protected to undertake some cultural activities for example at Ngomakurira for rainmaking ceremonies. The exercises involve entering caves and clearing routes to sacred places. In so doing they got too close to the actual attraction exposing it to the natural destruction through such geological processes like weathering, rock falls, landslides and mudflows.

Other attractions that are used for cultural purposes such as Great Zimbabwe have also been threatened by local people. For example local people walk on stones at Great Zimbabwe hence loosening the whole structure exposing the site to destruction. Local people were hosts as in residents around the Great Zimbabwe who would herd their domestic animals within the heritage site. The people would walk on the stones whilst the animals would also loosen some stones exposing the site. Unlike the incoming tourists who see the magnificent work of man in the structure, local people are used to such features and hence do not value it much. This disposition is better understood through the Shona proverb that says ‘chikomo chiremera chevarikure varipedyo vanotamba nacho’ meaning (a hill is revered by those far away, those nearby play with it).

In different tourism organisations, there are regulations that govern the behaviour of stakeholders in an effort to make the destination sustainable. Unfortunately, domestic tourists were singled out as having little respect for regulations. Domestic tourists disregard for rules and regulations is better understood through Nozick’s Entitlement Theory [36], which argues that goods distribution is just when the goods were acquired and transferred legitimately. In this case, the domestic tourists are demanding what they believe is theirs yet is being controlled by authorities. Unless and until both parties come to appreciate the need to have the authorities manage the resources and the local people together with foreigners having to pay for upkeep of such resources, domestic tourists will remain a threat to sustainable tourism development.

The arguments fronted by the domestic tourists for not wanting to pay can also be understood through the ethnicity theory [37]. The theory postulates that ethnic minorities has unique cultural value systems that influence their behaviour. Thus equally in tourism, the theory would attribute tourism behaviour differences between people (domestic and international) to value differences based on sub-cultural norms unique to each tourist grouping. How much do they value such facilities compared to what they are being asked to pay to enjoy them.

Domestic tourists also have emotional attachments with attractions given their history as such they sometimes act in very different ways. Whilst some exhibit possessive characteristics and fight to gain control of tourism resources they believe are theirs, others would want to destroy the resources. For example, domestic tourists who visited Matopos in Zimbabwe wanted to deface what is written on the grave of Cecil John Rhodes whilst others wanted to urinate on it.

Various reasons may be proffered for wanting to destroy certain attractions. These include differences in political inclination where opposing opinions may lead to physical destruction of relics associated with the enemy or rival group. After which establish own systems as a manifestation of power over your subjects (see [38]).

The hatred for Rhodes can be attributed to his association with the history of Zimbabwe. Maylam [39] argues that Rhodes is seen as a symbol of colonialism and all the injustices experienced during the colonial era, death and suffering during the liberation war where some domestic tourists lost their loved ones. Thus, in a bid to revenge their suffering under Rhodesian systems, domestic tourists would want to deface and urinate on his grave, maybe as a way of belittling him even in death.

However, despite the emotions, Rhodes remains part of Zimbabwe’s history. The history can be harvested through tourism to generate money for the country as a destination. Thus, continued emotional involvement by domestic tourists may damage the Rhodes relics such as his carts and furniture at Rhodes museum in Nyanga, Rhodes Nyanga Hotel on his once estate now a National Park and his grave at Matopos. This would remove some tourism attractions from the Zimbabwean tourism basket and is not good for sustainable tourism development in the country.

3.2 Minimal expenditure

Whilst domestic tourists are accepted as the bedrock of tourism in any country, their expenditure patterns have been low. Domestic tourists are presented as economically sensitive to distance and expenditure supporting earlier work by McKercher [40]. McKercher’s [40] distance decay theory argues that when comparable offers are available between short distant and long distant destinations, domestic tourists tend to choose short distant destinations to save on time and money. However, instead of using their income to support local tourism businesses, domestic tourists do not support tourism businesses whose services they can do without. These include accommodation providers and restaurants. In so doing domestic tourism is not supportive of the broader tourism industry with only a few selected suppliers whose services are unavoidable doing business with domestic tourists. As such the quality and quantity of facilities on offer on the market is compromised as service provider struggle to maintain standards as their income dwindles through minimal support from domestic tourists. This will have ripple effects on the tourism industry as international tourists will also shun Zimbabwe as a destination citing poor services that are not competitive.


4. Conclusion

In this chapter that explored the contribution of domestic tourism to sustainable tourism development, domestic tourism is seen as helping in exposing once unknown attractions and destinations to the outside world, having well-informed local people assuming various roles such as being quasi-information bureaus, de facto tourism ambassadors and role models and tour guides. Domestic tourism also increases destination value to the local people where they engaged in active participation as domestic tourists, develop high tolerance of incoming tourists and their conduct; exhibition of pride in attraction and destination ownership; increased investment in destination development and management and influence the growth of tourists from micro informal tourists to macro formal tourists. Positives were also noted in retaining attraction authenticity and economic development of destinations.

On the negative side, domestic tourism is blamed for attraction destruction as local people wrestled with authorities for ownership, management style, decisions on what to conserve, charges to accessing tourism resources and distribution of income generated from tourism. Domestic tourism was also blamed for the poor economic performance of some destinations since they were generally low spenders.

Evidence on the contribution of domestic tourism to sustainable tourism development suggest that without domestic tourism, Zimbabwe as a tourism destination would be struggling to grow its tourism product offering and expand its market share on the global tourism market.


5. Research limitations and future studies

This study was carried out in Zimbabwe, a developing country that was grappling with political and economic challenges. These challenges could have had an impact on how the research participants perceive the whole relationship between domestic tourism and sustainable tourism development. This might make generalisation of the results to other countries difficult limiting the study to Zimbabwe and other developing countries going through similar political and economic challenges.

Thus, recommended that similar studies be done in other developing countries that do not share similar economic and political challenges with Zimbabwe. It would also be interesting if similar studies are done in developed countries to see if the results will be comparable.


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Written By

Forbes Kabote

Submitted: 16 June 2020 Reviewed: 19 August 2020 Published: 01 December 2020