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Virtual Reality and the Tourism Industry

Rushali is a Tourism and Hospitality Management graduate. Takes interest in criminal psychology.

VR application in the Tourism Industry


In tourism, currently, VR is an invaluable asset in particular areas like marketing, entertainment and destination management. Tourists travel to explore and experience new things and to seek inspiration. The fact that tourists are always looking to expand their dimensions and their changing perspectives with the advancing technology around them makes it necessary for the industry to stay up to date. Websites like Trip advisor do the same by providing the tourists with real customer reviews but VR has taken it further as this helps the destination achieve new levels of interaction. Furthermore, affordable technologies like Google Cardboard and Samsung Gear etc. has made VR more accessible to the public. The pre and post-travel phases are the most important from the business point of view. Destinations are now using VR to enhance user awareness about the place before they physically travel to the place. As per the results of an online survey conducted by Italy4real to identify people’s views on the impact of VR in the tourism sector, 81% don’t seem to think that VR could replace or impact real-life travel. VR’s possibilities are endless as it can acutely impact a traveller’s decision.

VR Travel vs Traditional Travel


VR travel gives a virtual but immersive experience of the destination. VR travel is mostly used by travel agencies, hospitality organizations like hotels and airlines to give a premeditated experience to the passengers or tourists an idea of the destination. Currently, it is used as a part of holiday planning by tourists but is soon expected to be further expanded. While this is increasingly used to promote destinations and increase tourist’s arrivals to a destination, there is speculation as to, whether it has the potential to replace traditional travel methods. In the future, most of the companies involving marketing, sales and service will incorporate Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence into these processes.

On the other hand, some say that VR is a threat that would result in the replacement of the travel and tourism industry. They feel that countries, especially developing countries would try to avoid VR advances as these countries heavily rely on the revenue generated by tourism. Though Virtual Reality might be a simulation of actual travel, it does not have the potential to replace travel. This theory does not hold potential given the fact that Virtual Reality applications have reaped benefits in other industries due to its enhanced user engaging experiences. An empirical research was conducted to find out people’s acceptability of VR travel over traditional travel, which led to the conclusion that despite the positive aspects of convenience and environment friendliness, the general public disagrees to the idea of replacing travel with VR. Although this research data is gathered in 1999, it holds to this point in travellers wanting to travel in person than through VR. However, after the 2020 global pandemic, travellers, as well as VR companies, have been considering the chances of substituting travel (at least temporarily), with VR tourism experiences.

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