Is armchair travel the answer to your wanderlust?
Are you restless with wanderlust? Were you in the middle of planning that getaway trip or family vacation? Or simply bored of being indoors? Armchair travel to the rescue; with a global lockdown and social distancing in place, the only way to travel right now is from your living room. As we try to flatten the curve, there's an uncontrollable parallel shift unfolding in the way we entertain, socialise and work.
"With this 'new normal', we see immersive digital technology at the forefront - virtual environments and mixed realities as solutions to enhance comfort, productivity, and creativity. Virtual Reality (VR) is a creation of simulated environments, one of the most exciting technologies of our current generation. With its continuous evolution and ongoing developments, businesses all around the world are now integrating technology to enhance products and services and keep up with the times," says Hussein Dajani, UAE-based digital and customer experience transformation specialist.
Many attractions and tourism boards have created a selection of live streams, virtual tours and 360-degree experiences, allowing us to cross international borders and bypass passport control through the wonders of the world wide web.
"Getting to visit a location in Virtual Reality could help potential travellers make decisions about their future modes of travel, hotel bookings and sites they want to visit through an immersive experience," says Sameer Sortur, founder & CEO, SquareCircle Global, a consultancy that researches on frontier technologies and advises growth stage technology companies to build strategic plans for their growth across the Middle East & North Africa.
"Imagine booking a hotel and being able to walk around the pool by full VR tour before you complete your booking," says Matthew Sliedrecht, Cleartrip's Director of Marketing.
Does that mean VR could replace travel? Sliedrecht doesn't think so. "VR will not replace travel in the short term, there is nothing like seeing a lion walk past your car as you are safari-ing in Africa. Or that feeling when you look up in the Grand Canyon in Arizona and see the sheer size, or as you stroll around Petra wondering how amazing that this was built thousands of years ago. Travellers want to plan the ideal itinerary for their holiday, and VR will become an important tool to help travellers make those decisions and save resources."
"VR offers an opportunity for the 'traveler inside each of us' to stay motivated, inspired & curious. Armchair traveler can sample new destinations, experiences, or even revisit destinations virtually to create new memories from past trips," said Kunaal Nanik, Product Development & Holidays Manager, at Marcopolo Holidays, a travel agency based in Sharjah.
Besides bringing in a feel-good user experience, he adds, VR can be a unique tool for destinations and service providers to capitalise on travel dreaming.