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News Article

Viritual Tours Allow Travel from Home

By Cas Biekmann | Fri, 04/17/2020 - 17:49

Offering services purely in the virtual realm is nothing new but it is hard to argue that a virtual experience can replace the real thing. This is already true in the case of virtual classes and you would expect it to be more so in the case of travel. Nonetheless, COVID-19 caused widespread non-essential travel bans, meaning that the real-life travel options for the average person have been reduced to a walk in the park or a trip to the supermarket. As a result, this situation is boosting virtual travel and allows us to see destinations in a new light.

These online travel experiences take on different forms. Airbnb, for instance, offers virtual travel experiences that allow users to do something unusual and interesting. CNN’s interviewee Uluç Ülgen, a Turkish-American, offers classes in reading the future using the grounds left from making traditional Turkish coffee. Normally, the classes would take place in New York. Now, these are available online. Anyone with the ability to make a videocall can attend these classes in return for a small fee. The shift to online experiences offers a new business avenue for Airbnb. The company has seen its usual lodging bookings drop down to almost nothing because of the worldwide pandemic. The courses offer opportunities to learn skills from experts themselves or to immerse into another culture from the comfort of our own home through joining a meditation session with a Japanese monk, for example.

Another avenue for virtual travel is that of “visiting” sites or historic landmarks. Some people say it has the added value of no waiting lines and entrance fees; it only takes a little imagination. With VR technology improving, the tours will become more impressive as well. Examples of this are the Cincinnati Zoo offering “home safaris” on Facebook and a tour through the British Museum. It allows you to see the northern lights or take a virtual walk through the Grand Canyon. Egypt jumped on the wagon as well, by offering a look into the 5,000-year-old tomb of Queen Meresankh III. The tour uses 3D modelling developed by Harvard University. Egypt offers many other tours, such as the Coptic Red Monastery and the Mosque-Madrassa of Sultan Barquq. It might not be the same as being there but by going in person one would never be able to see all these sights in the time it takes to watch an episode on Netflix.

For now, creators of 360-degree virtual tours such as GoThru and Capterra offer to create their product as a way to eventually attract visitors in real life. After all, this is where the real income comes from. For now, this is unfortunately not a possibility. This adds to the value of online experiences, told Ülgen to CNN: "At a time when people are so desperate to make connections, the online experience is really, really valuable."

The data used in this article was sourced from:  
CNN, The Guardian
Photo by:   jeshoots.com
Cas Biekmann Cas Biekmann Journalist and Industry Analyst