You may not be a fan of gaming or own a Playstation, Xbox or similar but there is no denying that video gaming is going from strength to strength and as time goes by, technology becomes more and more advanced to a point where it can successfully replicate the real world in a virtual one. Have you seen the movie Surrogates with Bruce Willis? If not, have a watch. Its mind blowingly scary at just what technology could hold for us when it comes to our day to day lives. Sending out our surrogate self in to the world while we stay home controlling it via a head set and robotic arms.
So what does that have to do with travel? Well think about it. For a fraction of the cost of a plane ticket you can transport yourself to anywhere in the world to see the sights, smell the smells and feel the atmosphere without having to leave your sofa or even get dressed if you so desire. Not quite the same as phsically dipping your toes in to the Indian Ocean but the brain is a powerful thing and if technology really was good enough, whats to say we couldnt trick it in to thinking we actually were on a white sandy beach in the Maldives?
One of the perks of being a travel agent is the ‘fam trips’ – or familiarisation trips as they are more formally known where companies send agents off to various places to visit destinations, stay in lovely hotels (or in our case cruise ships) and to experience all that the destination has to offer. The idea being we can then sell the products more effectively to clients who are always keen to hear about personal experiences. One company has created what it is calling VFams and instead of actually sending agents around the world, they are using 360 degree virtual tours, video and images which they say is just as good.
Abta’s director of destinations and sustainability Nikki White Wright and Antor chair Tracey Poggio discussed the future for holiday hotspots, with over-tourism prominent in the discussion, a huge and growing challenge for our industry. We are already seeing countries and cities taking action to limit tourist numbers which I mentioned in one of my previous blogs about Amsterdam.
The Peruvian government has been limiting visitors to Machu Picchu for a couple of years now and in Cambodia ticket prices to Angkor Wat have almost doubled in an attempt to lessen the tourist traffic. Tourist taxes are being introduced in more cities and Santorini and Dubrovnik have also taken action to cap daily cruise ship visitor numbers.
Should demand continue to increase as expected the requirement to limit numbers will follow suit, resulting in higher costs that could price tourists out of the “real” market and into the arms of the cheaper “virtual” alternative and as more people take personal responsibility to reduce their impact on the environment it is likely that the number of flights they choose to take will reduce and virtual reality could become the right thing to do.
So there you have it, virtual reality holidays could be on the cards. What do you think to the prospect? Is it way out there or not too far around the corner?