With billions of people around the world grounded due to the COVID-19 pandemic, much of the travel and tourism industry is turning to the digital world to find new ways to adapt to the new normal.
Luckily, virtual travel opens doors for anyone to travel anywhere, anytime; an activity not bounded by weather and especially distance.
This modern twist on travel places itself in a global market filled with billions of internet users from all around the world.
For years, airlines, travel agencies, and tourism boards have used VR technology and other virtual apps to market and promote travel experiences and destinations to potential customers. As consumer uncertainty now becomes one of the biggest challenges for many travel operators, it can also serve as an opportunity to bring in more VR technology, including virtual travel, into the big picture.
Virtual tours from travel businesses have soared in popularity, essentially facilitating a tourism experience without the need to travel in real life. For many travellers, this can serve as an insight into planning any future travel itineraries, assuring customers with the ‘try-before-you-buy’ experience across Indonesia and beyond.
The Jakarta Good Guide is among Indonesia’s travel organisers that are providing these services. Talking via Zoom, the world’s most used video conferencing platform amidst the pandemic, Good Guide brings people on virtual tours through unique and historic places, from local Jakartan favourites like Menteng to international lands such as Berlin and Amsterdam. Tour guides, videos, and virtual maps help in enhancing the experience as travellers learn more about the local traditions, language, and culture.
In attracting future potential tourists, the Japan National Tourism Organisation has made a 360-degree virtual reality movie experience. Through your smartphone or headset, visitors go through an authentic Japan experience from bamboo forests, watching Geisha performances, sumo wrestling, and sushi making. Visitors will get a glimpse into the Japan tourist experience where tradition meets the future.
Whether travellers are stuck at home or simply minimising outside travel, the technology of today can let anyone explore all corners of the earth from the comfort of their home. Virtual reality technology and 360-degree videography can help for virtual travel to serve as an educational experience while giving people the chance in simulative experiences to what few people have the opportunity to do in real life.
Through smartphones, the technology of virtual reality has become more accessible than ever before. Google Earth VR, amongst other virtual apps, has been the go-to for many digital users, giving free, unlimited access to virtually transport to any location in the world. Most recently, they have added 30 UNESCO world heritage sites, containing historical text and pins for each location. Travellers can roam around the deserts surrounding the pyramids of Giza and the Great Sphinx or can opt to revisit some of Indonesia’s national sites, from the Borobudur Temple to the Prambanan Temple.
For a more immersive experience, travellers can partake in more sophisticated forms of virtual tourism by pairing up with a headset from companies like Oculus or Vive, witnessing a 360-degree simulation like never before. For sea lovers, National Geographic allows you to take a virtual dive and explore some of the world’s finest coral reefs, including Indonesia’s Raja Ampat, or swim with Humpback whales to your heart’s desire; allowing users to visit many beautiful and threatened coral reef ecosystems.
With much of travel being suspended, for now, the use of technology for virtual travel will be increasingly significant for travel businesses and travellers alike. Virtual travel may never replace traditional travel, but it is still allowing us to get a little closer to some of the world’s greatest wonders, opening up a new medium to explore from that many would not touch upon before. Indonesia and further abroad, we will surely be seeing more and more of the virtual world in our new normal and the years to come.