Take A Virtual Tour through e-Tourism

Take a trip around the world without having to leave your home.

  • Virtual reality (VR) in tourism will allow users to see destinations first-hand.

  • VR tourism’s format comes in the form of interactive photography and videos.

  • The market for VR tech will be made more accessible in the coming future.

The idea surrounding virtual reality (VR) has been popularly referenced in countless media and science-fiction stories; a way of enabling users to enter a simulated reality that can be programmed in any way, shape, or form.

It places users in a 360 degree fixed point of view, sometimes with interactive features, taken from a still image or a moving video. These, and the inherent qualities of being remote, is why VR technologies are currently in the works of kickstarting and modernising the COVID-stricken tourism industry.

A research conducted in 2019 hypothesised a trend that, with the growth of e-Tourism, the appeal of VR technologies in the wider tourism market will increase. But before we explore the far reaches of virtual reality, let’s tour around the fundamentals of the technology and its application in tourism.

Virtual Tourism

Visualise this: You’re in the thick of what seems to be a bustling town, the sky’s a hue like the ocean, the walls around you have a tint of eggshells. You move around the corner and you see cathedrals with domes so enormous, it’s gravity-defying. You’re in Florence, Italy.

Or this: It’s a long stretch of porcelain-white marbles; you look up to see a towering cluster of Qubbas (domes), and it puts you in a state of awe. You stand quietly, gazing at a monument of architecture and religion. You’re in the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi.

The descriptions above stand as examples of how current-day tourism businesses market their attractions. A combination of sentencing words and photographs together, hoping to be attractive enough in design or in pricing. This is where virtual technology takes it one step further.

Instead of leaving it to the customers to picture the destinations, VR puts them into the heart of the scene, allowing them to figuratively experience a destination of their choice, before making any further purchases, making VR a powerful marketing force!

Interactivity in a virtual reality

Check out how AccorHotels, a hotel group, uses the power of VR to let users virtually tour luxury hotels from all around the world. Heard of Airbnb? Did you know that you can now check out some of the home spaces in VR before actually checking-in? Or Ascape, a company that helps build entire virtual tours for businesses.

Want a first-hand experience of exploring the wider world of virtual reality? Click this link to hop onto a ride around the exotic safari of Queen Elizabeth Park, Uganda. Maybe you’re thinking of a more relaxing tour? Click this link instead for a tour around the National History Museum, Hintze Hall, London.

After all this talk about VR, let’s find out more about how virtual reality is produced and recorded!

Photographic VR

A static image shot in 360 degrees with cameras, and rigs made especially for 360 images. These images allow for simple exploration of the scenery with smart devices.

Although not as immersive as its counterpart, VR photography is significantly cheaper to produce, and is easily viewed and accessible by a larger market.

VR videos

A revolutionary way of exploration in virtual reality. These videos are recorded with omnidirectional cameras, a camera that simultaneously records in every possible angle. Giving users an almost realistic depiction of the scenery, i.e. with moving objects and wayfarers.

But even these videos are stitched together in two different formats. The first being monoscopic VR videos, just like VR photography, these videos can be viewed from any smart device; with simple drag and move navigation.

The second makes way for stereoscopic VR videos. A breakthrough in tourism application, this format requires users to view the videos through VR headsets. The headset features head tracking, which gives the users a more seamless means of looking around.

Making the future of virtual tourism a reality

As the trend and normalisation of virtual reality begins to integrate itself into every individual, so will the advancement of various industries like tourism. Although, a major gap in pricing currently holds a large percentage of users behind, big investments like Facebook’s billion-dollar deal in VR technology will allow for future entries into the mass market.

But what else does virtual reality spell for tourism? Well, a whole alphabet of opportunities are being unearthed day by day, such as Amadeus, a VR-first booking platform that allows you to virtually, and visually, plan your next holiday.

What about Brunei?

Our little nation itself nests a trove of secret wonders and unexpected treasures, it is an experience that must be seen and heard. But as we mentioned above, older forms of marketing tourism leaves too much to individual interpretation, and is understandably outdated.

Did you know that there are a countless amount of DIY tours in and around Brunei found online? Click here for a 360 image of the serene walkarounds of Kampong Ayer, or here if you want a more lively video around the Jame’ Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque.

Now, that optimistically leaves us with an idea to push Brunei’s tourism industry out to an international scale even further. In utilising growing VR technologies, we would produce a library of VR-friendly online tours of our vivid and breathtaking Brunei, for the world to enjoy. What do you think?

Virtual reality isn’t hogged by a single company, nor would we have to play the waiting game. It is right before us. Bah! Get ready, because the future of tourism, e-Tourism, is happening.