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Why Domestic Tourism is a Form of Sustainable Travel

When thinking about where to vacation, many people want to go abroad, preferably as far away from home as possible. But how often do you travel in your own country? Domestic tourism is one of the best sustainable travel choices you can make. This article will exactly tell you why based on the fantastic example of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail.

domestic tourism sustainable tourism

What is Domestic Tourism?

At its simplest, domestic tourism is an act of traveling within one’s home country. According to UNWTO, it “comprises the activities of a resident visitor within the country of reference, either as part of a domestic tourism trip or part of an outbound tourism trip”. This type of tourism has grown in significance over the past few years, largely due to the Covid-19 pandemic. As people couldn’t go abroad but still wanted to travel, they decided to explore more of their own country!

Sometimes, we also call domestic tourism a “staycation.” It similarly means staying in one’s country of residence for vacation, oftentimes focusing on local attractions. The difference between international tourism and domestic tourism is simply the relationship the tourist has with the country.

Why is Domestic Tourism such a great form of Sustainable Travel?

Now that we know what domestic tourism is and how it differs from international tourism, let’s talk about why it’s so important for the sustainable tourism world.

1. It boosts the economic growth of the country

While it’s no surprise that tourism contributes greatly to the economy, some destinations and countries are more popular than others. This leaves the less-visited ones without much income. In this case, domestic tourism can be a great way to boost the local economy.  This can be achieved by choosing local attractions, restaurants, accommodation, and many more!

2. But how does domestic tourism help the economy?

The money left by tourists can be spent to revitalize the economy and generate employment. This in turn can help with tackling poverty. For example, if you choose to stay in Wellknown Buffalo Tipi Stays along the LCNHT, you contribute to supporting Native artisans and a local food pantry. 

domestic tourism sustainable tourism

The livelihoods of the host communities can also be protected. Many developing countries, such as Papua New Guinea, Libya, or Bangladesh (see the full list here) rely on domestic tourism as their borders are highly restricted for international visitors. This can be due to many factors, such as geopolitical circumstances or strict visa requirements.

Local governments can also use the money to improve the infrastructure and services of the destination. This might include roads, airports, or clean water. By choosing local, you then contribute to the better state of your own area!

The Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail involves dozens of local points of interest and things to do along the way. Its biggest goal is to promote tourist attractions and sites related to this historical Trail. Because of this, embarking on a journey along LCNHT is a great way to help the local communities thrive. It also allows you to explore many off-the-beaten-path sites and hidden gems along the route. And what’s tourism for if it doesn’t empower local communities?

3. Domestic tourism can help tackle overtourism

Overtourism also called “mass tourism” happens when there are too many visitors in one place at a particular time. Whilst promoting tourism is extremely important for the economy, it can also lead to negative consequences if mismanaged. Honeypot destinations such as Venice or Barcelona are the main examples of how overtourism turned beautiful places into “theme parks.” We certainly wouldn’t want this to happen to any further sites.

As domestic tourism leads to promoting lesser-known destinations, it has the potential to disperse visitors to less visited areas. However, these places are still worth visiting. Just think about how many times you got lost in the heart of a big city and suddenly found yourself in a hidden little street, where all the local cafes and shops are located. Less popular sites also mean they’re less crowded. This again makes them more enjoyable to explore – perfect for a trip when you want to get away from it all.

The Lewis and Clark National Historical Trail offers countless sites along its route, including historic museums and national parks. This creates endless opportunities for American citizens to immerse in their culture without going to usually busy places such as Yosemite or Grand Canyon. For example, the Hawn State Park in Missouri is the perfect spot for travelers of all ages to enjoy their time outdoors, with an opportunity to do some hiking or camping. Or if you’ve never thought about going to the Makoshika State Park, this is your sign as it is Montana’s largest state park just along the Yellowstone River, with outstanding natural beauty to admire!

domestic tourism sustainable tourism4. It is better for the environment

With domestic tourism taking place in the country of residence, you don’t need to travel very far away to your destination choice. Most of the time, you probably won’t even have to hop on a flight. Transportation is an inevitable component of the tourism industry. Unfortunately, it takes a toll on the natural environment as well. Thus, the fewer modes of transport you use during your travels the better. With domestic tourism, it’s even easier.

This is an extremely important aspect to consider as the aviation industry generates millions of tonnes of CO2 emissions each year, making it a great contributor to global warming and climate change. Road transportation also leads to environmental pollution, and it contributes to noise and dust production as well. Therefore, staying local might be your best choice if you would like to travel more sustainably.

While Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail makes for a perfect road trip, you can choose to focus on only one or two states at a time as they are multiple spots listed on our interactive map – there will always be something new to see!

domestic tourism sustainable tourism

We hope this article has inspired you to travel across your own country by explaining why domestic tourism is so important.

And for your next trip around the United States, be sure to check out our Lewis and Clark trip inspiration to find out what this amazing trail has to offer!


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