Virtual reality is no longer science fiction. Sure, it’s not as cool as they make it look in movies but it’s getting close.
Well, it’s more inching toward its potential. The year 2016 was widely promoted as the year VR would emerge from the shadows and take the travel industry by storm. While that didn’t happen, it cannot be considered a setback.
The technology is still teething and will take time before it can become an integral part of tourism; however, research shows interest in VR is on the rise globally.
This is especially true in the case of 21 markets in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia, where, according to a YouGov study, VR is found “very appealing” by 51% of those surveyed. This is while a staggering 71% said they would “download travel specific VR content” to their device.
It is therefore no surprise that a growing number of tour operators worldwide, including Thomas Cook, are offering VR tours of their destinations to help their clients “fly” before they buy package tours. It’s a neat option, being able to “go places” from the comfort of your couch.
Now, before you call this a gimmick, let’s look at the numbers: Thomas Cook reported last year that its virtual holiday scheme ‘Try Before You Fly’ was directly responsible for a 190% increase in trips booked to New York. That’s an astonishing growth, one that should give you pause to ponder the impacts of widespread use of VR in the industry.
Travel agencies aren’t the only entities that are taking a liking to VR and its capabilities; hotels and airlines are also warming up to the idea. Australian flag carrier Qantas Airlines has already started offering VR tours of select Australian destinations aboard its inbound flights, while hotels are being encouraged to use the technology to provide potential guests with a glimpse of what it’s like to stay at their property.
Virtual reality is tipped to become a $150-billion industry by 2020 and it oozes with potential to revolutionize the hospitality and travel sectors.
The technology should be of particular interest to travel brands operating in Iran, too. The country is gradually coming out of isolation thanks to thawing of relations with the international community, meaning Iran’s attractions are mostly unknown to globetrotters.
PersiaPort, an online market place for all travel services in Iran, is a pioneer in the fields of 360° virtual tours and VR tourism in the Middle Eastern country.
So if you’re itching to get a closer look at some of Iran’s finest attractions, head on over to the website and browse through their database of VR tours as well as 360° virtual tours (also known as immersive videos). Put on your headset and explore the wonders of Iran, from world heritage sites such as Naqsh-e-Jahan Square in Isfahan to lesser-known places like Chal Nakhjir Cave in Delijan.
PersiaPort’s virtual reality tours are compatible with all VR headsets that comply with Google Cardboard 1.0 and 2.0 specifications.
The company’s 360° virtual reality tours embed you in some of Iran’s most popular spots, and giving you an unrivaled view of what the country has to offer before you pick up the phone to book a trip. To help develop inbound tourism, PersiaPort is also ready to shoot 360° videos and virtual tours of attractions, accommodations, and restaurants, among others, upon request and host the videos on its website.
The applications of VR on tourism are plentiful and its implications major. Virtual reality is far from a flight of fancy of tourism executives; it has already showed glimpses of its potential. With sufficient time and money, the technology can be refined enough to become a fixture at hotels, airplanes and travel agencies.
While it is true that the technology is taking longer than expected to strike the right tone with consumers, this could be a blessing in disguise for suppliers who haven’t jumped on the VR bandwagon yet: There is still time for them to catch up with the competition.
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