Purpose: The purpose of the study was to assess the perceived economic impact of religious tourism in Zimbabwe. The research objectives were (1) to determine the nature of religious tourism in Zimbabwe, (2) to determine the key success factor for economically viable religious tourism in Zimbabwe, (3) to ascertain the perceived economic contribution of religious tourism, and finally (4) to propose strategies for economically sustainable religious tourism in Zimbabwe.
Methods: The research adopted a qualitative approach and was descriptive in nature. The study focused on Harare and the study population was made up of a cross-section of tourism service providers in Harare, religious leaders, and the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority. Purposive sampling was used for service providers and as well as religious leaders.
Results: The research findings revealed that there are a lot of religious tourism activities that take place in Zimbabwe, particularly Harare, and normally take the form of pilgrimages, religious conferencing, healing and deliverance nights, and worship. The perceived economic value derived includes employment creation for the locals, an increase in foreign currency generation, and an increase in sales revenue. The research findings also show that for religious tourism to be economically sustainable there is a need for government involvement, re-packaging of the product, and investment in local infrastructure.
Implications: Zimbabwe Tourism Authority and the private sector need to take the religious tourism market seriously and make deliberate efforts to harness this growing market.