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    Competitiveness factors influencing tourists’ intention to return and recommend: evidence from a distressed destination

    Woyo, Erisher ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0776-6645 and Slabbert, Elmarie (2023) Competitiveness factors influencing tourists’ intention to return and recommend: evidence from a distressed destination. Development Southern Africa, 40 (2). pp. 243-258. ISSN 0376-835X

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    Abstract

    Assessing destination competitiveness from a tourist perspective has been limited, especially for distressed destinations such as Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe has been facing ongoing political and economic challenges for more than two decades which puts pressure on the growth of the tourism industry. However, all destinations compete in the same space for tourists’ attention, forcing marketers to continuously develop strategies to enhance competitiveness and increase tourist returns and recommendations. This paper focuses on identifying competitiveness factors that influence tourists’ intention to return and recommend. Based on a sample of 450 international tourists to Zimbabwe, results show that unique to a distressed destination, the residents’ hospitality and friendliness is the most important predictor for the intention to return. This emphasises the role of residents in making the destination more competitive and attractive. General amenities, attractions and destination management are also significant predictors of return intentions. Tourists' intentions to recommend are largely predicted by the destination's resources. Encouraging visitors to revisit and recommend can assist a distressed destination in increasing visitor numbers on a limited marketing budget. Understanding these factors could also help managers to improve the negative image of the destination.

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