Aug 10, 2023
The metaverse, also known as the 3D internet, represents an emerging virtual space with tremendous potential for revolutionizing the tourism industry. Imagine traveling the world without leaving your room, exploring ancient ruins, bustling cities, and serene landscapes through the lens of virtual reality. This concept is not science fiction but a burgeoning reality in today's digital age.
This blog post explores the impact of metaverse experiences in reshaping how people travel, what’s driving this shift, and how the tourism sector uses immersive experiences as a marketing tool. With the increasing adoption of extended reality technologies, the tourism industry stands at the brink of a transformative era, offering immersive and interactive travel experiences.
The rise of virtual tourism
Virtual tourism uses the metaverse and related technologies like virtual, augmented, and mixed reality (VR, AR, and MR) to provide digital travel experiences, allowing users to explore destinations, landmarks, and cultural sites without physically traveling. It's a blend of technology and exploration that transcends traditional boundaries, creating a new frontier for travel enthusiasts that’s estimated to be a $20 billion opportunity, according to McKinsey. Virtual tourism is also opening new revenue streams for the travel industry. While traditional travel faced setbacks during the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual travel remained resilient, providing opportunities for businesses to innovate, reach global audiences, and earn an income.
Several factors contribute to the growth of virtual tourism:
Technological advancements: The rise of sophisticated VR, AR, and MR headsets, like the Oculus Rift, has made immersive exploration accessible to many. These advancements in VR technology enable users to experience destinations in high-definition 3D, creating an authentic feel. HTC Corporation also recently unveiled the HTC Vive VR headset with an integrated input controller, elevating the immersive 360-degree VR experience.
Growing desire for remote experiences: In an increasingly connected world, the rising demand for unique and remote experiences is being met through virtual tours. Whether it’s exploring the Amazon rainforest or walking through the ancient streets of Rome, virtual tourism makes these experiences a reality for those unable to access them traditionally or those looking to experience them before they travel. Euromonitor International also reported survey findings that one of the most popular activities in 2022 is virtually exploring a destination pre-trip through VR.
Rising demand for sustainable travel: A 2023 report by Deloitte highlighted that nearly 60% of surveyed travelers stated they have opted for sustainable tourism options in some way in recent years to reduce their carbon footprint. Virtual tourism offers an eco-friendly alternative to traditional travel, minimizing the carbon footprint by reducing transportation and on-site resources and supporting a more responsible approach to tourism.
Numerous platforms and applications are offering immersive virtual tourism experiences. For instance, Google's Arts & Culture provides virtual city tours, museum visits, and nature excursions. Another leading metaverse as a service platform, Rendezverse, offers travel and tourism companies the opportunity to create immersive experiences for destinations in the virtual world.
Enhancing destination previews and marketing
The 3D internet is not just a virtual space; it's a canvas that paints a captivating picture of travel destinations, transforming how they are marketed and explored.
Here's a deeper look into how the metaverse is reshaping immersive marketing in the tourism industry:
Interactive previews of destinations and hotels: Virtual reality immerses potential travelers in a destination's culture, attractions, and hospitality, giving them a ‘try before you buy’ experience. Imagine walking through the vibrant streets of Marrakech or sailing along the Nile—all through a virtual platform. These previews provide an authentic feel of the destination, enhancing planning and decision-making for travel experiences. Airbnb introduced "Online Experiences" during the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing hosts to offer virtual tours of locations and interactive activities. This initiative provides a taste of travel for those unable to travel and promotes future visits.
Global showcase of countries: Tourism boards like Visit Dubai have leveraged the 3D internet to showcase their country’s prominent landmarks to a global audience. These interactive tours are marketing tools that invite travelers to explore and discover what a place offers. By providing 360-degree views and guided virtual experiences, they create a unique and engaging platform for potential tourists.
Collaboration with travel agencies: The 3D internet enables travel agencies like Thomas Cook to offer immersive previews of holiday packages. Agencies can create customized virtual tours through platforms like Travel World VR, allowing travelers to explore accommodations, local attractions, and dining experiences through 360–degree VR experiences. This collaborative approach can improve customer engagement and give travel companies a competitive edge.
Sustainable and inclusive Tourism
Sustainable tourism: As the metaverse evolves, the foundational technology it's built on will become more sustainable. Virtual tourism in these 3D internet environments presents a sustainable alternative to traditional travel, significantly reducing the carbon footprint associated with transportation. By opting for virtual experiences, travelers can explore destinations without the environmental impact of flights, which, according to the International Energy Agency, contributed to approximately 2% of global CO2 emissions in 2022.
Accessibility for all: The metaverse breaks down barriers, allowing individuals with physical disabilities or financial constraints to explore places they may not visit in person, democratizing the travel industry. With several free and affordable platforms to enjoy 3D virtual experiences across devices from headsets, desktops, and smartphones, the ease of accessibility for travel experiences significantly increases.
Encouraging ecotourism: Non-profits and sustainable tourism groups can use the 3D internet to allow travelers to experience endangered regions and inspire conservation efforts for threatened natural environments. For instance, the Egmont Key Alliance is working towards restoring the island in Tampa Bay that has experienced severe erosion over the years. The alliance used 3D scanning technology to create a VR experience to view the island as it was in the past compared to today to educate and inspire eco-conscious decisions.
Case studies: Successful metaverse experiences in tourism
Metaverse experiences are already making waves in the tourism industry, especially in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Here are some notable case studies from the region:
The Louvre Abu Dhabi Virtual Tour: This virtual exploration offers a unique perspective on art and culture, allowing visitors to roam the Louvre Abu Dhabi’s galleries from anywhere in the world through a free downloadable application.
Jordan Heritage's Virtual Reality Experiences: Jordan Heritage, a non-profit, builds virtual museums, restaurants, and other historical sites to document Jordanian history and culture digitally.
Lebanon’s Baalbek Reborn experience: The Lebanese Ministry of Culture, in collaboration with other stakeholders, built a VR experience called ‘Baalbek Reborn’ to allow tourists to visit the Roman Heliopolis in Lebanon. The immersion lets travelers view the historic site and walk through its 3D recreation.
Conclusion: A new era in tourism
The transformative impact of metaverse experiences on the future of tourism is undeniable. It reimagines how we explore, plan, and engage with travel destinations. From virtual city tours to heritage preservation, the 3D internet paves the way for sustainable, inclusive, and enriching experiences. As industry stakeholders, the call to leverage the metaverse is not just an opportunity; it's a responsibility to drive innovation, foster collaboration, and create unforgettable journeys in a virtual world.
Are you an organization 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!
Aug 10, 2023
LandVault is the largest metaverse builder with over 100 million square feet of virtual real estate, more than 120 full-time creators, and nearly 300 completed projects. We’ve been helping brands build and grow in gaming environments since 2017 and the metaverse since 2021.
LandVault’s platform-agnostic proprietary technology and creative powerhouse builds and delivers tailored, data-driven, and optimized business solutions and insights. We help clients launch, optimize, and monetize metaverse experiences.
LandVault’s mission is to accelerate the metaverse economy through technology with a vision of a fairer wealth distribution across the web.