Virtual Reality: The Groundbreaking Smart Technology for the Tourism and Service Industry

Virtual Reality: The Groundbreaking Smart Technology for the Tourism and Service Industry

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-8528-3.ch019
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Virtual reality, also known as computer-based reality, is an advanced technology that has the capability to upsurge destination accessibility and to increase the popularity of lesser-known destinations. The objective of the current study is to understand the latest trends in virtual reality and to discover the future scope of implementation of virtual reality in the tourism industry across the world. The potential and the employment of virtual reality is not entirely understood and comprehended by many destinations. The present study identifies that there is a continuous development in popularity of virtual reality, and it is the need of the hour today. This disruptive technology has led to the phenomenon of virtual tourism, which gives people a preview and understanding of what they will experience if they visit a place physically. Virtual reality is becoming an outstanding way to showcase information and to gain relevant response from the tourists to enhance the services and overall tourist experience in the tourism destination.
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Disruptive technologies like artificial intelligence, robotics, internet, cloud technology, etc. have changed the tourism business from dreaming moments to experiencing moments, as a result it is also changing our life style and travel decision making. Meta-searches, virtual reality and virtual tours are becoming popular. The generation Y (people born between mid-1990s to 2000s) and generation Z (born between mid to late 1990s to early 2010) who are living in technology are becoming more comfortable with virtual reality and due to this, there will be new opportunities in future to utilize it in different ways for additional revenue generation. The dawn of the 21st century presented new innovative and interactive technologies, which has changed various sectors and industries, including the tourism industry completely (Buhalis & Law, 2008). Because of the advanced computer technologies several tourism processes, procedures and methods have changed (Owen, Buhalis, & Pletinckx, 2004). The mobile-based tour guides (Bellotti, Berta, De Gloria, & Margarone, 2002), audio guides (Gebbensleben, Dittmann, & Vielhauer, 2006) and virtual reality supported museums (Jacobson & Vadnal, 2005) are some of the examples of advanced technologies involved in delivery of tourism services.

Tourism and technology are growing together in the present ecosystem and it can provide the greatest passive engagements on platforms. Virtual tours can help not only in tour planning but also in marketing of a particular destination. Within a few years, “seeing the world” could take on a whole new meaning. The Covid-19 pandemic has contributed to this shift in the favor of virtual tourism and it’s no longer a choice but a necessity. It’s also a fact that it’s too early to say how virtual tourism will shape the tourism industry, but the idea of interacting virtually with locals and experiencing new places without actually travelling is interesting for the modern tourist. In a short period of time, the tourism industry has advanced in the area of application of computers. Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), can provide unimaginable opportunities, if they are used in an effective manner (Mariani, Baggio, Buhalis, & Longhi, 2014). For example, ICT can affect tourism related business as cultural heritage organizations like museums can use it to collect visitors’ feedbacks, ideas, preferences in order to improve their services in future (Cappa et al., 2020). According to Jung and Han (2014) in order to achieve destination competitiveness, we need to invest innovative technologies. Virtual reality is beneficial for both the supply side and the demand side of tourism. With the help of information communication technology, it also enhances the visitor’s experience. The true potential of the implementation of virtual reality is not yet known and understood. Researchers and academicians have been discussing the impact of technology on tourism since the 90s.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Digitalization: The use of digital technologies to improve processes and to provide value-producing opportunities.

Information Communication Technology: An umbrella term that comprises communication devices or applications including mobile phones, computers, network hardware, software, the Internet, satellite systems and many more.

Virtual Tourism: A simulation of an existing tourism destination or attraction location which is constructed by a sequence of videos or images.

Simulated: The imitation of the operation of a real-world process or system over time.

Virtual Reality: A simulated experience that can be similar or entirely different from the real world.

Meta-Research: A research that uses the methods of science to study science itself.

Virtual Environment: A simulated environment produced through computer-generated images.

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