What do Pokémon GO and the COVID pandemic have in common? Both have dramatically accelerated the convergence of technology and travel.
The popular Pokémon mobile game has proven that a creative augmented reality (AR) application is enough to inspire users to explore the real world.
The onset of the pandemic made the same case for virtual reality (VR): Give users a way to virtually travel the world and they’ll put on their metaversal sneakers.
The potential of augmented reality and virtual reality to enhance the travel experience has grown by leaps and bounds during the pandemic as travel agencies, attractions and destinations have been forced to adopt Technology in a way they had never tried before.
As we navigate a post-pandemic world, the same absorbing technology will be used to enhance the visitor experience, rather than replicate it. AR, VR and the metaverse will grow exponentially into our physical world, immersing travelers in a Technology-a trend that will continue well beyond 2023.
Virtual reality helps travelers explore old corners of the world in new ways
Before the pandemic, emerging technologies like augmented reality and virtual reality were largely ignored by destination marketing boards and travel agencies. When the world came to one stop in 2020, these technologies have become a lifeline for those with few outlets for their wanderlust.
The transition happened almost overnight: suddenly, globetrotters could visit a medieval cobblestone town in Romania, join ice bathers in Helsinki or shop in the fragrant souks of Marrakesh – all without ever leaving their couch.
Local Purse is one such pandemic-driven innovation. A collaboration with adventure travel company Intrepid, the app features personalized live videos purchases experiences around the world. It offers travelers a way to select handicrafts from countries like Morocco, Mexico and Peru, then have them shipped directly to them.
“Technology as simple as mobile phones can quickly connect us with remote communities,” says Lola Akinmade Åkerström, co-founder of the Stockholm-based app.
She believes the Local Purse experience benefits everyone involved. it makes you travel accessible and inclusive for travelers with reduced mobility. It helps companies to reduce their the carbon footprint reducing physical travel. And it provides a sustainable source of income and an organic connection to local guides and cultural artisans.
“Local Purse offers maximum impact travel with minimal footprint and fulfills at least six United Nations Sustainable Development Goals,” says Lola.
“By focusing on locally produced and sourced work by these artisans and vendors, we facilitate and support responsible cultural connection. »
Today, virtual travel is evolving. Armed with the possibilities of virtual reality that the pandemic has unleashed, a handful of cultural attractions have begun to examine how they can benefit from virtual improvements.
Notre-Dame VR experience brings “time travel” to Paris
Freed from the confines of reality, VR and AR technologies allow major tourist sites to immerse visitors like never before. Not only does this enhance storytelling capabilities and for educational purposes, but the integration of VR and AR technology can breathe new life into even the most visited destinations.
The collapsed Mayan kingdom could be brought back to life in the temples of Chichen Itza in Mexico, for example. MoroccoThe Roman city of Volubilis could be pieced together to make sense of all the isolated columns and well-worn floor mosaics.
France is a country at the forefront of this hybrid tourism, as evidenced by the Our Lady Eternal VR experience in Paris. Billing itself as a “time trip”, this captivating 45-minute tour takes you through the cathedral’s 850-year history at breakneck speed. It allows tourists to step into a living, breathing version of the aging, burnt-out shell of Notre Dame.
The company behind the experience, Emissive, calls its work “immersive expeditions” designed to be shared.
“Virtual reality is complementary to a real visit, adding a new perspective on the destination”, explains Fabien Barati, CEO of Emissive. “Virtual reality brings more: allowing access to areas firm to the public and even travel back in time to discover cultural sites in their original context and meet historical characters.”
What other countries are embracing VR-enhanced travel?
The same techniques are used in Carcassonne in the French region of Languedoc, where a 30-minute VR experience inside the walls of the Citadel fortress allows tourists to travel through different periods of its history.
Germany is also implementing the concept of hybrid tourism. In September 2022, Hamburg used augmented reality to look both back and forward, when global tech brand Honor challenged two artists to creatively reimagine the Wasserschloss, an iconic UNESCO World Heritage monument .
“The project aims to inspire global creative talent to take advantage of innovations such as AI [artificial intelligence]AR and Spatial Audio to connect communities to culture in a more immersive way and support the world tourism reboundas the world embraces the connected future,” says Honor.
AR and VR possess the unique potential to not only preserve the past, but also protect the future from heritage attractions. Destination-based VR experiences could be used to minimize additional damage to fragile sites that suffer from excessive tourist numbers, for example.
This technology can also be used nationwide to encourage sustainable tourism. EgyptThe Government of Canada is officially embracing augmented reality and virtual reality to boost both ecotourism and Medical tourism.
The country’s environment ministry is running a campaign called Eco Egypt, a virtual reality-based initiative that aims to promote ecotourism in less visited protected areas such as the White Desert and Taba.
Similarly, in June 2022, the Egyptian General Authority for Health Care announced a new plan to increase tourism thanks to augmented reality. This use of technology allows potential patients to virtually visit healthcare facilities and learn about their capabilities.
As the world sinks deeper into the metaverse, it’s clear that these emerging technologies will continue to find applications and integrate into the the travel industry.
The trend of virtually enhanced destinations is explored in more detail in articles from Expedia and Euronews Travel. Trend report.
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