“Why shouldn’t people be able to teleport wherever they want?”
– Palmer Luckey, Founder, Oculus VR
What is Virtual Tourism?
It is a combination of technical components such as Virtual Reality (VR) headsets, software, audio, video, images, narration, interactivity, and other multimedia etc. VR contains videos which enable the viewer to explore the entire 360 degrees of a scene. Unlike a regular image of video, which is shot from a fixed view point, VR production uses multiple cameras to capture every part of a location. The finished content can then be viewed on a VR headset that displays all these videos simultaneously to give you the immersive feeling of being at that location.
Think about exploring the Great Barrier Reef. You may not know diving or even like going in the water, and even if you do, going to the other side of the world is expensive and time consuming. By taking a Virtual tour through interactive time-lapses, videos, and weather maps all you need to do is wear VR headsets and explore the Earth’s most bio-diverse ecosystem.
Uses of Virtual Tourism
Tourism destinations can create immersive VR movies of their locations as a powerful marketing tool to showcase their strengths.
Virtual Tours with a guide
Many tour operators have begun selling Virtual Guided Tours of the cities that they operate in. This helps them expand their reach to a whole new set of customers.
Live streaming events
Live Events like Concerts, Sports etc. can also be live streamed in VR to enable a much larger audience to experience the event in real time.
Future of Virtual Tourism
Social media has created a whole industry of travellers who invest more in sharing their experiences online. This increased entanglement of technology, media and travel will evolve into virtual travel, making it easier for people to access locations that have been out of their reach. We already see this trend beginning as a majority of people are open to VR experiences.
How VR Tourism will change travel
Try before you Buy
VR will be an important part of marketing to let their customers sample or experience what they have to offer so they can decide if they want to proceed and buy. For example, British Airways now offer a virtual tour of their business class only aircraft operating between London City Airport and New York. Interested customers can now see and experience for themselves what it’s like inside and decide if the cost of the ticket is actually worth it for them.
Educational experiences on Location
For places like museums, galleries etc. VR can help elevate the learning experience to the next level. Augmented reality will provide audio, video and other information of each artefact as you see it. You can search for more information, or let a virtual guide take you through the key facts as you move through the place.
Virtual tours of Real Places
Virtual tours let your clients tour the world without leaving the comfort of their homes. It often provides a first-person perspective and creates a realistic experience that can be enjoyed from any place with a Wi-Fi connection. National park explorations and digital safaris are a great way to destress at the end of a busy day.
Visit Areas That Are Inaccessible
Some tourist sites that are hard to enter due to remoteness, costs, undeveloped conditions or physical limitations of the tourists themselves can become Virtual travel hotspots. Places that are deep under the sea, caves, remote islands and even dense rain forests can be explored easily. This also ensures that the ecological balance of these remote places remains untouched.
While the metaverse will never completely replace real travel for most people, it can be used to promote, educate and reach a much larger audience at a lower cost. So, do your research and stay informed on how virtual travel can be a tactical tool and soon will become necessary for any business to have.