COVID-19: Is Virtual Reality Tourism Ready to Take Off?
For millions of people all over the world, a trip to the fairytale-like Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany and Maldives’ pristine waters are their biggest dreams. These are parts of their bucket list ambitions.
Plans for travel to these amazing destinations and other international trips were put to a halt by the coronavirus pandemic. All over the world, once-crowded airport sights lay dormant, alongside empty hotels.
On 13 October, IATA, or the International Air Transport Association, said that international air traffic disappeared, with airlines carrying just 10% of the usual level. IATA estimates that COVID-19 disruptions put over 41 million jobs at risk across the tourism and travel sector.
Without travelers, hotels, destinations, tourism boards, and travelers have turned to VR (virtual reality). VR is a technology that is still in its infancy but is now used to keep would-be visitors interested in possible destinations.
What started as a temporary measure may now be a long-term one. IATA says that travel may not come back to pre-pandemic levels until the year 2024. Faced with the diminished tourism reality, several people believe that coronavirus might be the right moment for virtual reality to turn into a permanent tourism marketing fixture.
According to Global Data tourism analyst Ralph Hollister, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic may have allowed virtual reality to shake off its image as a gimmick. The further the pandemic progresses, the higher the chance that VR may turn to a valid type of alternative travel.
Steve Perillo is the boss of a company called Travel World VR boss, a United States-based virtual reality and 360-degree video production and marketing company. They work with hotels, cruise lines, destinations, and tour operators. He said that now, the momentum has really picked up with virtual reality, having launched the concept of remote travel.
Lots of nations have stepped up their virtual reality marketing efforts to prepare for the eventual recovery of their respective tourism industries. Germany is one of them. The country has just unveiled immersive projects to highlight their country’s potential as an amazing travel destination.
360-degree videos designed to be watched on Oculus Rift headsets have taken people on trips all over the country, as well as parts of its Baltic Sea and the North Sea coasts. There are also another set of videos that can be seen on Microsoft Hololens, including views of the nation’s most popular palaces and castles.
Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation Thoyyib Mohamed said while virtual reality will indeed help improve tourism, the outright correlation may be difficult to measure. He said that an increase in virtual reality investment doesn’t translate to visitor growth in the future.
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