The new pandemic wave has stalled major travel plans and forced all travel enthusiasts to be quarantined within the four walls of their home. Over the next few months, traveling appears to be a difficult option as the vaccine against COVID-19 has yet to hit the market. Domestic tourism has seen some growth during this pandemic as people are retreating to very quiet and less crowded places on the outskirts of the city for weekends but the majority of tourists don’t risk traveling for fear of infection.
As the saying goes “every cloud has a silver lining,” thanks to advancements in technology and live streaming features, people can now travel to different places comfortably in their homes. This recent fads are called called virtual travelling or virtual tours or virtual tourism. Big travel agencies and the hospitality industry are harnessing the potential of the growing virtual tourism industry.
Real-life travel experience
In a recent interview, the head of Airbnb Experiences, Catherine Powell, expressed her optimism about virtual travel. She says virtual travel can provide travelers with many opportunities to connect with the thriving global travel community. Airbnb has smartly taken advantage of virtual travel. They are giving visitors opportunities to experiment with various activities such as virtual bicycle tours, Korean beauty classes, meditation sessions with Buddhist monks, Moroccan cooking sessions, and more. Visitors do not have to spend a penny and can enjoy the experiences for free.
The Marriott Hotel, the largest hotel group, has partnered with Oculus Rift to provide guests with authentic and immersive virtual travel experiences to exotic and beautiful destinations. VR technology developed by the University of Tokyo is encouraging Japanese seniors to take a virtual trip to their favorite countries. The goal of this technology is to create a positive effect on the mental health of the elderly in Japan.
Big tech companies are also taking advantage of virtual travel. Google Arts and Culture, with their mapping technology, is offering 360-degree virtual tours to important historical and cultural sites such as the Machu Picchu, the Sphinx, the Great Wall , Taj Mahal temple, etc. With Google Street View, travelers can recreate a trip and virtually travel to their favorite destinations.
A viable alternative to the uncertain tourism industry
Currently, the virtual travel industry is acting as a suitable alternative to the mainstream travel industry. Forbes has predicted that the travel industry will generate an approximate lose about 50 million jobs. The only way to deal with this is to actively promote the destinations and experiences. Virtual travel can help achieve this goal.
Virtual travel offers a 360-degree immersive, simulated experience of travel destinations so travelers can feel they are actually there.
There are many industries involved in the tourism industry. They are turning to virtual travel to compensate for the imminent losses. The aviation industry was one of the industries that adopted virtual technology earlier. They are using it to entice passengers. Skylights is the first airline company to launch a virtual lounge entertainment service. People can access 250 hours of online content, TV shows, movies and documentaries in 2D, 3D, HD and 360-degree formats. Other airlines such as British Airways, Air France, Garuda Indonesia launched a similar feature in their entertainment category. VR technology is helping these airlines differentiate potential customers.
Travel agencies are making 360-degree VR videos of destinations, cruise ships, hotels, clubs, and more to promote an engaging and captivating experience. Travel World VR, a travel agency based in New Jersey, has launched an iOS app that allows travelers to immerse themselves in 3D travel experiences at popular tourist destinations.
Here is an actual Virtual Travel experience video, watch the video to understand how it works: