Editorial: How VR Technology Could Save the Tourism Industry
COVID-19 has taken a huge toll on economies all over the world, but by far one of the hardest hit industries is tourism. But, thanks to the wonders of virtual reality, technology might be here to save the day.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the world economy to its knees. The International Monetary Fund estimates that the coronavirus will end up costing the businesses some $28tn when all is said and done. That figure represents not only lost revenues, but lost businesses, jobs, pensions and even lives.
One industry has been hit harder than most others. The global tourism industry has been decimated by the coronavirus. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the industry has missed out on over $1.2tn in lost revenues. The reasons for the decimation are quite simple. Not only have people been compelled to stay in their homes and advised not to travel unless necessary, a majority of flights have been grounded and most borders have been either restricted or closed.
Recovery will be slow. McKinsey & Co estimate that the industry may not return to 2019 levels until 2024. In the face of a $1.2tn loss, industry leaders are being forced to innovate. The problem is, there's not much vacation companies can do to refocus their services.
However, thanks to the magic of virtual reality technology, the tourism industry may have found a lifeline. If vacation companies can't bring you to the world's most fantastic landmarks, they can now bring the landmarks to you.
VR start-ups like Ascape and YouVisit already offer these services, to great success. Aspire offers 360-degree short films and documentaries, taking you from mountains of Machu Picchu to guided tours deep inside North Korea.
It's unlikely that VR could ever replace the tourism industry entirely; when the pandemic is over, you'd best believe that I'm planning as close to a jet-set tour around the globe as I can possibly afford.
But these VR start-ups could certainly help to weaken the blow. Industry has been forced to adapt to the new normal; not just to keep their businesses afloat, but to keep their employees in jobs, too.
What do you think of VR Tourism? It's success will obviously be dependant on access to VR headsets, which aren't quite as common as a business model like that would require. Luckily, the new stand-alone MR headset the Lynx R-1 is set to release later this year with a reduced price.