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Some points on Domestic Tourism

Difusion date: 
Mon 07 May 2012

Whether it is to rest, discover new things, meet others or to have a unique experience, everyone has a right to tourism; in short, there are not, there should not be, and there cannot be two categories of human beings, those who can be tourists and those who can only receive them. These two activities are, in fact, but two sides of the same human activity; both of them are noble and respectable and everyone is entitled to them.

Domestic tourism (DT), historically speaking, is in fact the first form of tourism that was practised and today it continues to account for the most part of this activity by far: it is estimated that out of the 4.8 billion tourist arrivals per year (2008 figure), 4 billion, or 83%, correspond to domestic tourism. Likewise, the UNWTO's economists estimate that at the global level domestic tourism represents:

* 73% of total overnights
* 74% of arrivals and 69% of overnights at hotels
* 89% of arrivals and 75% of overnights in other (non-hotel) accommodations

In light of these impressive figures, one is prompted to ask three questions:

1. What are the characteristics of domestic tourism?

1. AS FOR ITS CHARACTERISTICS, especially when compared to international tourism, it is possible to start with three fundamental observations:

  • 11. In contrast to international tourists, domestic tourists know the destination, its language, its customs, its laws, its climate, its cultural context. This has at least two consequences:
    • 111. As a general rule, domestic tourists are more demanding, especially when it comes to the quality of products, and also with regard to their consumer-protection rights
    • 112. Out of the four main motivations of tourists (discovery, encountering others, experiencing something unique, resting) the last two are certainly more prominent among domestic tourists
      • 1121. They seek a very wide diversity of types of destinations and tourism activities, in other words, the range of product offerings should be as broad as possible.
      • 1122. At the same time, domestic tourism is practiced more in a sedentary (staying in the same place) than a nomadic manner, the latter being more suited for more distant destinations.
  • 12. Second characteristic: domestic destinations are nearer
    • 121. Visits are more frequent and there are more repeat stays, notably with family and especially in the rural region of provenance of many urban residents
    • 122. Land transport is predominantly used: 88% compared to 51% for international tourism
  • 13. Third characteristic: as the destination is nearer and land transport is used more, the cost of trips is lower:
    • 131.Given that the barrier represented by trip cost is brought down, domestic travellers seek the best price-quality ratio, or often the lowest possible price, in all segments of the tourism value chain: accommodation, food services, tourism activities, shopping, etc…
    • 132. they therefore seek alternative, non-hotel accommodations because, among other things, they are going to return several times to the destination and, while there, they prepare subsequent stays by informing themselves about the local accommodation offerings
    • 133. last, but not least importantly, they stay for longer periods
  • 14. The combination of these three basic characteristics (knowledge and proximity of the destination, lower cost of transport) brings about an entire series of other consequences; five of them can be mentioned:
    • 141. The social composition is broader, and domestic tourism involves all social strata, from the richest to persons with modest (but stable) incomes
    • 142. Certain social categories are much more highly represented in domestic tourism than in international tourism:
      • families
      • children and teenagers
      • seniors
      • disabled persons
      • households with modest but stable incomes
    • 143. This social diversity gives rise to a large diversity in the demand, in terms of accommodation and tourism products as well as activities and destinations.
    • 144. DT is less geographically concentrated and is relatively better distributed throughout the national territory, with a strong presence in the region of provenance of families.
    • 145. Unit expenditure is markedly lower than in international tourism, especially interregional tourism, but the overall volume of expenditure is markedly higher.

2. What is its impact on the social life of a country or a region?

Five types of main impacts can be mentioned: