BY THE MINISTER OF TOURISM AND HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY: HONOURABLE. P. MUPFUMIRA
Domestic tourism is an essential contributor to the growth of the tourism economy. It provides a foundation for sustainable tourism growth and development especially in times of global uncertainties. To date, domestic tourism account for most of tourism worldwide at 83% of global tourism, generating over 4.8 billion tourist arrivals per year according to United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO). Domestic tourism has thus become a new frontier in growing the gains of tourism in any destination. It offers a fall back plan for any destination’s tourism and also acts as a magnet for international tourism as tourists frequently go were the locals like to go.
Whilst successful destinations are anchored on domestic tourism, the same cannot be said about Zimbabwe whose main emphasis has been on regional and international tourism. The country’s domestic tourism has been characterized by low participation of locals in leisure tourism, expensive product offering, limited product knowledge and lack of affordable domestic packages.
Zimbabwe has given limited recognition to the very important contribution of the Domestic Tourism Market to the growth and development of the economy. Whilst we acknowledge that the disposable income of our people is very low, it is disheartening to note that our attractions are out of reach to residents where these attractions are located. The locals should have an opportunity to at least experience tourism products within their vicinity.
In recognition of the above, my Ministry will be embarking on a Domestic Tourism Campaign within the 100 days Action Plan framework as set out by His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe. The campaign will emphasise on developing a culture of tourism among locals and a better understanding of what the country has to offer. The main objectives of the Domestic Tourism Campaign are to:
- Create and intensify awareness of what the country has to offer to the Domestic Tourism Market.
- Resuscitate at least ten  Visitor Information Centres throughout the country.
- Initiate affordable rates of tourism products and services to the local market.
- Coordinate the development of affordable domestic packages.
Domestic Tourism should be the bed rock of a sustainable tourism industry as it is not affected by the external environment associated with foreign tourist markets. Countries with successful tourism industries have vibrant domestic tourism segment. For example, China’s domestic tourism generated 4.88 billion trips and $681billion in 2017 according to China National Tourism Administration (CNTA)
Coming closer home, South Africa developed the Sho’t left domestic marketing campaign in 2013 to encourage domestic travel. The campaign’s ideals were that there was always a first time to experience something new and that every weekend provided an opportunity to do something that had never been done before. In 2016 domestic tourism generated 43million trips contributing R63billion ($5.14billion) according to StatsSA. Currently domestic tourism contributes 73% of tourism in South Africa.
The old adage “Charity begins at Home” aptly captures the essence of the Domestic Tourism Campaign. I am aware that a big number of Zimbabweans are taking holidays within the region and abroad. They know a lot of places outside Zimbabwe and not much about their own country. We are not complaining because such exposure brings in new knowledge to the country.
However, tourism like charity should begin at home. We are strongly encouraging our people to take holidays at home first before considering other destinations.
In conclusion the need for collaborative engagement of both the Private and Public sector in this initiative can never be over emphasized. Tourism is a cross cutting sector that thrives on the support of other enabler sectors as well as suppliers of goods and services. It is on this basis that I make this clarion call for the active participation of all stakeholders to work closely with our Implementing agent the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority in this endeavor.
It is my hope that through this campaign there will be increased domestic tourism activity with downstream benefits to other economic sectors. A sense of national pride will be instilled among locals thus creating tourism ambassadors in each and every one of us.
I thank you.