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Tourists' perspectives of a tourism product in a selected Zimbabwean town
A well-packaged tourism product is the deciding factor in the choice of tourists about which destination to visit. A tourism product can be bundled with many tourism elements such as accommodation, attractions, activities and tours, price, image and climate. The tourism elements that build up a tourism product are the principle factors that contribute to the decision to choose one destination over another destination. Tourists can put a number of tourism products on the table, based on their needs and wants. However, they opt for one tourism product that promises to satisfy their demands. Destinations that offer unique tourism products are the most successful in a competitive industry since tourists will visit such destinations to fulfil their needs. However, even though some destinations like Victoria Falls offer unique tourism products, it is important to understand the nature and trends of tourists visiting this destination and their perceptions of the tourism product. This will assist in planning how to address any areas of concern as well as maintaining areas that are performing well. Limited research exists on tourist perspectives of the Victoria Falls tourism product and hence this is the focus of the current research. It will help in broadening the knowledge of the relevant tourism bodies in Zimbabwe on how tourists view the tourism product, as well as aiding sustainable development and growth of the tourism product. This study followed a quantitative methodology design. The interviewer administered 377 questionnaires on face-to-face basis to tourists on a voluntary participation basis. Systematic sampling was used to collect the data.Key findings indicate that despite the increasing number of females visiting this destination, males still dominate the tourist numbers. The majority of tourists fell within the age bracket of 21-50 years. The findings further show that availability of attractions, price of the tourism product, and accessibility of the destination play a paramount role in influencing tourists to visit the destination. Most tourists’ expectations were met and they would visit again in future and recommend the destination to friends and relatives. The most satisfactory results were noted on the attractions, activities, tours, and tourist accommodation. Despite these positive results, tourists felt that prices of accommodation, activities, tours, as well as dining, was too high. Furthermore, too many police roadblocks and unnecessary fines were noted as being detrimental to the tourism product. The researcher noted all concerns and made recommendations to overcome these negative aspects. The experience of tourists at a destination is strongly associated with an amalgamation of different elements of a tourism product. It is crucial to understand the performance of each tourism element as this contributes significantly to the success of the tourism product. The results of this study will afford the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority and Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority an understanding of the Victoria Falls tourism product from a tourist perspective. These entities will be able to improve the product, make it more attractive to tourists, and hence grow future visitor numbers. In addition, the results of this study create a baseline for future research. Monitoring of tourist perspectives over time and an evaluation and assessment of the tourist demands can be done, which will help in the modification and upgrading of the tourism product to match the demands of the consumers (tourists).