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Coronavirus and the Rise of Virtual Reality Travel

by Alan Daniel

Necessity is the mother of all inventions. The tourism and travel industry must take a new turn to satisfy various tourists who cannot physically visit tourist sites. More firms are turning to virtual reality to provide fantastic experiences to those who want to quench their thirst for travel.

Despite losing over $320bn due to travel restrictions, traveling agencies have teamed up with technology to provide similar travel experiences to people through virtual reality travel.

This also gave rise to VR flights which are also called in-flight experiences. They are normal flights without takeoff. It features a standard first-class flight setting with drinks and foods but with a VR set tuned into your desired place or location. The first in-flight experience was before the pandemic in the Ikebukuro neighborhood in Tokyo, Japan, in the year 2017 and charged $62. You could say it was years ahead of its time.

With your VR set and some apps, you can be in any continent you would want to travel to. VR platforms like Alcove or Travel world VR will provide you this experience at ease with little to no hassles.

How Does the Virtual Reality Travel Experience Work?

App developers gather all these video clips together from sites like Nat Geo Wild or National Geographic to provide you with a real online experience.

With hardware like Google Cardboards, PlayStation, or Facebook’s Oculus, you can connect to these apps and enjoy your travel. This experience is so detailed and in line with reality that you can even play games of snooker or chess with someone else on the other side of planet or hear the crunch of an online tourist eating chicken.

The Value to The Respective Stakeholders with Virtual Reality Travel Experiences

The return value of this innovation benefits not only the tech industry but also the travel tourism industry as more people will purchase VR sets to gain this experience and prepare themselves to travel as travel restrictions are relaxed.

The monetary return value to the tech industry is over $50 million, as in 2020 alone, over 68 million units of VR headsets were sold, excluding the sales of other tech equipment.

To the tourism industry, the return value is the heightening traveling effect the VR experiences gives to the users which can be channeled to booking travel destinations when everything returns to normalcy.

Challenges in Deploying These Virtual Reality Travel Experiences

This success could be more tremendous, but they are being limited by several factors such as the cost of gadgets. A VR set is not easily accessible to low-income earners; without it, most people cannot get this experience. Apart from the cost, the tech industry needs to improve on a lot of features as a lot of tourist areas do not have their respective VR world’s offered at the present moment.

Some of these aspects are also far too advanced for an average person to use. Due to difficult navigation,  a fewer amount of people consider the use of VR gadgets at the present moment.

Despite these inhibiting factors, the travel industry is pouncing on this opportunity to educate incoming tourists on what to do when traveling and the features of tourist sites before actual travel takes place.

This experience is not to diminish or replace the actual traveling experience. It has several limiting factors like the taste of foods and smells of a place and its shorter range of time compared to a 2-week immersive vacation in a compelling place like Bora Bora.

Will It Affect Travel?

Those who dabble in this rising segment are quick to note that VR travel is a pre-travel experience and will not in any way negatively affect the travel industry. But what happens when you create a virtual world that is so immersive that it compares to the actual real world experience? Further, if the virtual reality experience is compelling and cost-effective, why spend money on flights, food, lodging, and other aspects that you would have to account for when traveling in the real world?

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