The present and future of virtual tourism

GONZALO MARISCAL, RESPONSIBLE FOR LEARNING TECHNOLOGIES AT THE XR LABORATORY OF THE EUROPEAN UNIVERSITY, REFLECTS ON DIGITIZATION IN THE TOURISM SECTOR IN THE # POSTCOVID19 ERA.

In these complicated dates in which we live, due to the health crisis caused by COVID-19 , we have noticed some striking data. For example, the digital edition of the British Museum has seen a brutal increase in the number of visits . Normally there were an average of 2,000 visits per day and during the last week of March there were 175,000, that is, about 75,000 daily visits. There are also interesting data in other projects such as in the Courtauld gallery in London where a very strong increase has been detected compared to the second and third week of March. In the third, visits increased by 723% in its digital collection. In this situation, new initiatives have arisen, the Van Gogh Museum has released many of its collections in digital format and has uploaded videos in 360º format, a technology similar to that used in Google Street View, which allows virtual visits to the Museum.

From my humble opinion, I consider that a virtual visit to a place or a monument can never replace emotions, feelings, sounds or smells. Going to the Timanfaya National Park and see how the smoke comes out at high ground temperatures or that the tour guides tell you anecdotes of its surroundings are perfections that only physically visiting a place will give you, they are small details that manage to transmit the history that each place has behind. Therefore, a virtual reality will never be a 100% reality but this technology also has many advantages. It allows you to travel, visit a place on the other side of the world with just one click, this is possible thanks, for example, to Google Cardboard glasses. It would even be an advance in the education sector, studying art or architecture and being able to make these visits to monuments without leaving home.

For all these reasons, virtual reality is becoming more and more present in the tourism sector with the appearance of new initiatives as interesting as the Mona Lisa project Beyond the glass . It is a very beautiful idea that allows you to get virtually close to one of the most famous and visited paintings (both physically and virtually) in the world. In this 3D approach you can learn more about the history that surrounds the entire work and each of its lines. This project has been developed thanks to the collaboration of the Louvre Museum and HTC VIVRE ARTS, which is currently a leading company in virtual reality.

Yet another advantage is the creation of new jobs in this sector. The world of digitization , of knowing virtual and augmented reality technologies , combined with the world of history and art, is an association that will undoubtedly create new jobs that will require specialization in knowing both areas and how combine them.

In this way, more interactive stories will be created that will bring art and culture closer to people, we will be able to visit the rooms of our favorite museums from any corner of the world, or learn anecdotes and details of wonderful monuments, and all this seems incredible to me.