Travel and tourism are things that, up until recently, had to be experienced in person. But times are changing. With 60% of all in person events being cancelled over the last year, and numerous customers, holidays and flights affected by the pandemic, the travel and tourism industry were hugely impacted. A large percentage of the country is longing for the day when they can go abroad safely and freely again. But what if there was another option that you hadn’t explored yet? An option that gave people a rich and fulfilling experience, whilst keeping them safe, minimising the risk to you, and any risk to themselves? Great news. That option exists. Get ready to think outside of the box.
Virtual tourism breaks the boundaries of time, space, and a global pandemic. In recent times, it’s become much more popular. But what is it really, and how does it work? Can it provide holiday lovers with the experience that they crave?
What is Virtual Tourism?
Far more sophisticated than a general video, Virtual Tourism uses 360 videography and photography to capture the real environment (let’s say a luxury beach resort in the Maldives) which can be experienced by computer, phone or through a VR headset.
By using Virtual Tourism, the tourist is immersed into whichever environment they want to explore. Whether a resort or a location. At theme parks for example, there may be a mixture of both actual and virtual rides. Or take museums and galleries who are enhancing their exhibitions with virtual activities and presentations.
Looking at holidays, prior to the pandemic, some organisations were already beginning to create VR holiday experiences to revolutionise their customer experience. Take VirtualDIVER, a virtual reality underwater experience in Santorini. This experience offers tourists a tour of Santorini, both above and below the water. The trip starts in Fira, the capital of Santorini, and begins with a stroll around the island, interacting by participating in various activities. Just like in real life, tourists have the opportunity to descend from Santorini’s mountain tops, using cable cars and then prepare for an incredible diving experience. There are several different diving locations on offer. The virtual map on the platform is an exact adaptation of reality, on land and below the sea. Once the location has been chosen, it’s time for customers to dive down and explore the various real life treasures that lie beneath the waters of Santorini. Treasures like shipwrecks, volcanos, craters and the island’s colourful marine life. We’re blown away that this can all be experienced risk free, anxiety free, from the customer’s own home.
Examples don’t stop there. How about a trip to visit the Catacombs of Paris? Or a trek through the Amazon rainforest? Or watching the Northern lights rising and filling the sky with a multitude of breath-taking colour?
Benefits of experiencing tourism virtually
There are other benefits of Virtual Tourism for you and for your customers too. Sometimes things that can be forgotten in the excitement of planning a trip into space!
- Accessibility: Whilst changes are underway to make our buildings and general environment more accessible, these changes take time and money. Some places and environments are sadly still inaccessible for customers who are wheelchair users or have other access needs. With VR, that’s all taken care of. It’s purely a case of picking where to go next!
- Cost: Whilst you need VR headsets and a device such as a smartphone or computer, the cost of taking a trip with VR is far cheaper than a physical trip, which means savings for you and savings for your customers.
- Environment: We can’t ignore the positive impact on the environment that has happened due to all the lockdown’s that have taken place. Smog lifted, animals were seen heading into urban areas, birdsong was louder than traffic and skies cleared. One of the benefits of VR tourism is that it has very little impact on the environment. Less litter, less disruption to ecology, wildlife, flora and fauna, and less carbon dioxide emissions.
- Increases bookings: Another great benefit of VR tourism is that it stimulates physical tourism. A person may be much more likely to book up for your holiday experience if they’ve already virtually visited the hotel and the destination.
Virtual Tourism ticks the wanderlust box, whilst stimulating the urge to physically travel. Here at Circus, we are all about virtual realities, but that doesn’t mean we’re not looking forward to booking our real world holidays soon too. Thanks to virtual experiences that have shown us new exciting destinations!
What a time to expand from purely physical tourism into the myriad possibilities of Virtual Reality tourism. There are millions of people, looking to stay safe, escape the confines of their homes and explore the world again. With Virtual Tourism, the world really can be your oyster.
Are you a travel provider or work within tourism? Could a virtual experience be of interest for your organisation? Contact our team today. We’ve got a wealth or experience in the field, working with the likes of English Heritage and Visit Florida – find out more here.