The metaverse transcends its gaming origins, promising transformative experiences, with significant potential evident in the travel sector. Virtual tourism in the metaverse allows users to digitally visit dream destinations, offering a taste of wanderlust without leaving home. This accessibility to travel experiences democratizes travel for those restricted by various constraints and champions sustainable tourism. As the metaverse evolves, it hints at a future where our travel experiences are a seamless blend of the virtual and the real world.
The metaverse and travel
At its core, the metaverse is a 3D internet, offering users a digital realm to explore, interact, and even live. This digital realm is not limited to fictional or abstract spaces; it can replicate real-world destinations in high fidelity, allowing users to traverse locations virtually. Travelers can engage with multiple touchpoints using immersive technologies like virtual and augmented reality (VR and AR) throughout their journey. Individuals can virtually visit travel destinations to garner inspiration and plan trips or use it as a source of leisure and entertainment.
Imagine leveraging the power of the 3D internet to recreate the Eiffel Tower in Paris with meticulous detail. Individuals can access this recreation with virtual reality headsets to find themselves standing beneath the tower, feeling its overwhelming scale, hearing the ambient sounds of Parisian streets, and even virtually visiting nearby cafes. All of this can be experienced without ever leaving one's living room.
This virtual mode of travel offers several advantages. It's instantaneous, allowing users to jump from one destination to another in seconds. It's accessible, removing barriers like cost, physical disabilities, or travel restrictions. Moreover, it's sustainable, eliminating the carbon footprint associated with traditional travel. While virtual travel in the metaverse can only partially replace real-world travel's tactile and multi-sensory experiences, it offers a compelling case to offer hybrid experiences, especially in an increasingly digital age. The 3D internet, in essence, has the potential to redefine our concept of travel, making every corner of the world accessible with just a click.
Virtual exploration: From destinations to museums
The metaverse is rapidly becoming a transformative platform for virtual tourism, allowing users to experience iconic destinations, landmarks, and cultural sites in unprecedented ways. This digital realm goes beyond the 2D browsing experience to offer a 3D, interactive space where users can immerse themselves in meticulously recreated environments.
Here are some ways travel companies, heritage locations, and museums can use the 3D internet to offer virtual visits and exploration to travelers:
Visiting historical locations: The metaverse can recreate entire historical locations and cultural sites in their former glory. Envision walking through the bustling markets of the Silk Road or exploring the hidden chambers of Egyptian pyramids through virtual recreations of the sites. AR overlays can enrich these experiences, providing contextual information, historical facts, and narratives that enhance learning and exploration. A great example of virtual historic sites is Australian archeologist Simon Young’s company, Lithodomos VR, which recreates iconic ruins like the Temple of Venus and Rome that virtual tourists can access through smartphone headsets.
Virtual walkthroughs of iconic destinations and landmarks: Tourists worldwide can visit prominent travel locations built as 3D replicas in the metaverse, where they can virtually walk through and interact with elements in the environment, irrespective of geographical, financial, or physical constraints. For instance, VR City, created by the BCB Group, is a new virtual destination home to a digital replica of Niagra Falls and the Great Wall of China that aims to allow visitors to experience these locations at a nominal fee of €2.
Virtual museums: Museums in the metaverse allow diverse art, history, and artifacts to be accessed globally, transcending traditional cultural and political borders. These museums can unlock opportunities to offer immersive and interactive digital experiences impossible in traditional environments. For instance, the Louvre has introduced an innovative virtual reality project titled 'Mona Lisa: Beyond the Glass.' This inaugural VR endeavor by the museum aims to provide an immersive and personal engagement with the iconic Mona Lisa through a downloadable app.
Recreating historical and cultural moments
The 3D internet offers a unique platform to recreate and relive historical events and cultural celebrations with its expansive digital capabilities. By harnessing the power of VR and AR, the metaverse can transport users back in time or across the globe, allowing them to experience events as if they were present.
Here are some ways the metaverse allows individuals to engage with historical and cultural moments:
Recreating historical events: The metaverse can rebuild critical moments from the past with astonishing detail, allowing virtual visitors to walk through these scenarios, interact with virtual characters, and influence events. This immersive experience provides a deeper understanding of history, making it more tangible and relatable. For instance, Timelooper, a VR and AR tech company, creates experiences that immerse users in significant historical events. Users can witness George Washington’s inauguration via VR from the comfort of their homes or experience the John Lennon Memorial in 1980 through a 360-degree perspective.
Experiencing cultural celebrations: Festivals, parades, and other cultural celebrations can be accessible worldwide through the metaverse. Users can virtually attend the colorful Holi festival in India through the 3D internet or participate in Japan’s cherry blossom celebrations. These experiences are not passive; users can actively engage, interact with virtual attendees, and even partake in traditional activities while absorbing the event's sights, sounds, and emotions. For instance, Upland and Decentraland collaborated to create a virtual Carnival in Rio de Janeiro where visitors could experience the festival, dance with avatars, and dress in digital costumes.
Participation in reenactments: Historical reenactments, often limited by geographical and logistical constraints, can be globally accessed in the metaverse. Users can don the armor of a medieval knight, strategize in war rooms during pivotal battles, or debate in ancient Athenian forums. These reenactments can be collaborative, with users worldwide participating, offering diverse perspectives and interpretations.
The potential of the metaverse in this realm is vast. It offers a window into the past and diverse cultures and allows users to engage actively. This immersive participation fosters empathy, understanding, and a deeper appreciation for global histories and traditions.
The benefits of virtual travel
Sustainable alternative to traditional travel: According to a study by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), air travel accounts for approximately 2-3% of global carbon emissions. Virtual travel eliminates the need for flights, significantly reducing one's carbon footprint.
Ignites wanderlust and inspires physical travel: Users who experience a destination virtually through the 3D internet will likely express a higher desire to visit the location in person. For instance, Thomas Cook offered 360-degree VR experiences for destinations to provide travelers with ‘taster’ experiences. They witnessed a 190% uplift in bookings for New York excursions after delivering a VR experience of the location.
Democratizes travel experiences: Virtual reality platforms like Oculus showcase experiences such as climbing Everest or a visually enticing tour of the Great Barrier Reef, allowing users with mobility issues or health restrictions to experience adventures they might not be able to in real life.
A valuable tool for trip planning: The metaverse can allow destinations to offer ‘try before you buy’ virtual experiences so travelers can cut out the time and hassle associated with pre-screening locations. Platforms such as Travel World VR allow travelers to experience places before making a booking, which can increase consumer satisfaction.
With its vast digital capabilities, the metaverse redefines travel, offering immersive experiences that bridge the gap between virtual and tangible worlds. Enabling users to virtually traverse iconic landmarks, experience historical moments, and partake in global cultural festivities evokes a profound sense of wanderlust. More than just a digital escape, the metaverse democratizes travel, making it accessible and inclusive for all, irrespective of physical, financial, or geographical barriers. As technology advances, the metaverse stands poised to complement and, in some cases, enhance our real-world adventures, heralding a new era of exploration.
Are you an organization or government body looking to build virtual experiences to boost tourism? We can help develop, scale, and monetize your idea in the metaverse. Get in touch with us today!
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