Revival of Domestic Tourism in Zimbabwe
Since the dollarization of the economy there has been a lot of talk about tourism. The government of Zimbabwe has elevated the tourism industry to be one of the key pillars for economic growth and wealth creation. From all this buzz about tourism we are yet to see any meaningful returns from tourism especially from the domestic front. At international resorts like Victoria Falls and Hwange the tourist arrivals are seasonal and the rest of the country’s top destinations are operating at below capacity.
The questions I am going to raise in this post and probably give my own view about the question are; Why are we failing to revive domestic tourism in Zimbabwe?Do the locals really hate travelling that much? Is it because they are broke they do not even have any money to spare for travelling?
The questions above are not easy to answer and the year we are able to answer them then we can surely benefit from tourism. At the moment we are just operating on guesses that the domestic market is performing poorly because of low income.
Firstly, the Zimbabwean government and the private players within the tourism industry have never done any major research to understand the domestic tourism market. For any marketing strategy to succeed and for any product to be known and be appreciated there is need for thorough market research to understand how the consumers behave in the market.
A market research will assist the stakeholders answer some of the questions highlighted above. A thorough market research will assist in the creation of tourism products which meet the people’s expectations. It will also assist in answering why locals do not travel to resorts and yet for the festive season they are prepared to travel to their home area. A research will help establish ways to turn that demand for VFR (visiting friends and relatives) into demand for resorts.
Secondly, there is also a need to advertise and publicise our destinations. For example, it will not be a surprise to note that the majority of Hararians do not know that the National Heroes Acre is open for the public even when there is no hero being laid to rest and that there are museums in Harare.
In summation, there is need to understand the market and also educate the market about our products and we can reap benefits from domestic market. By promoting domestic tourism we can iron out seasonality issues faced at our top destination.