Virtual travel: Your (digital) window to the world is here to stay

GlobalData’s latest analysis report has declared virtual travel to be the biggest tourism trend of the year 2021.
Virtual travel
Virtual travel is the leading tourism trend of 2021. Image: Shutterstock/Aila Images.

Last year, when armchair travel was the closest thing left to going on a vacation (thanks to global bans and a series of lockdowns), the world had found respite in old vacation photos, travel movies and of course, virtual travel experiences. The global tourism industry had turned to virtual reality, as well, to soften the blow. Now, with countries reopening for travellers, people have (finally!) started planning real-life vacations again. But this doesn’t mean the trend of virtual experiences is dying anytime soon.

GlobalData’s Social Media Analytics Platform that tracks emerging trends among online discussions on Twitter and Reddit, has recently released a rundown of the top five types of tourism that have dominated conversations in 2021, and virtual travel has topped the list. The five trends, including space, adventure, food, and wine, other than virtual, reflect active attempts made by the governments and stakeholders of the tourism industry to revive domestic and international travel.

Virtual travel
Take a virtual trip to the Great Wall of China. Image: Shutterstock/zhu difeng.

Through augmented reality, virtual reality and video tours, attractions and tourism boards across the world continue offering innovative travel alternatives, especially when there are still many destinations that are yet to open their doors to global travellers, and a large population still sceptical of going on vacation already. Destinations are also using virtual reality to create attractive campaigns aiming at renewing interest among potential visitors.

So, if you too are still dreaming of travelling far away and would want to wait it out a little longer before boarding a flight again, put on your comfiest PJs, grab some popcorns and lounge on your couch to embark on an immersive virtual experience.

Virtual travel
Ready to (digitally) visit California’s Yosemite National Park? Image: Shutterstock/ Eric Dale.

Through the screen of your smartphone or laptop, you can take a gondola ride amid Swiss Alps, explore the Great Wall of China, or hike up the Half Dome on a high-resolution virtual tour of California’s Yosemite National Park. Try Flyover Zone‘s 3D tele tours that let you visit some of the world’s most important cultural heritage sites like the historic spot of Baalbek in Lebanon! Airbnb Online Experiences also lists numerous virtual tours that will take to some of the most exquisite destinations and even let travellers interact live with experts on Zoom.

There are various museums and art galleries in India that have taken things into their hands to connect with their audiences in the virtual world, including the National Gallery of Modern Arts in New Delhi and Victoria Memorial in Kolkata. Partnering with over 2,000 museums and archives around the world, the online platform of Google Arts & Culture allows viewers to experience some of the world’s art and artefacts through high-quality imagery, virtual reality, and interactive sessions. You can even take a close look at Mona Lisa or other 4,80,000 artworks at Musée du Louvre, Paris by scrolling through the museum’s official website.

read more: Mumbai boasts India’s most advanced Virtual Reality gaming experience

Virtual tour of Lahore with Google Arts & Culture.

Miss going on a safari? The live cams at San Diego Zoo and Asilia Africa’s Safari at Home are among many zoological parks that let you meet the wilds in their natural habitats. Even many theme parks have begun utilising VR technology to put their existing roller coasters, water slides and drop towers to use. Experience the action-packed  The Great LEGO Race at LEGOLAND Florida Resort or be lost in the Star Wars world at Disney’s Hollywood Studio. With virtual tourism, the world is your oyster and the options are quite endless!

read more: International destinations opening for Indian travellers? Here’s all you need to know