How AR/VR is taking over the Retail Industry

Increasing Scope of VR in Tourism Industry

In the year 2018, India’s GDP saw a contribution of 9.2% by the travel & tourism industry, and approximately 26.7 million jobs were also generated by the industry in that year. On account of COVID 19, it is expected by the Indian tourism and hospitality industry that this industry will face a potential job loss of around 38 million. In April 2020, the hospitality sector witnessed a decline of more than 65% in occupancy levels when compared to the same month last year. It is estimated by the Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) that the hospitality industry comprising of the hotel, aviation, and travel sectors together would suffer a loss of approx ₹85 billion because of the travel restrictions imposed on foreign tourists.
The World Travel and Tourism Council has asked the governments to protect the industry. Out of several measures suggested by the council, it has emphasized increasing the budgets to promote the travel destinations. This is exactly where Virtual Reality will come into play once the travel restrictions have been lifted and travelers restore the confidence in traveling again. For years, VR in the tourism industry has been used as a ‘try before buying option’ with travel agencies, airlines, hotels, and tourism boards exploiting VR technology to promote their destinations to the potential customers. So a traveler would rather than reading through multiple descriptions, booklets would prefer to experience things for themselves. Often travelers complain that the images shown in the description or the website do not resemble the actual room that is offered to them.
However now after the pandemic, the role of technology in the industry will seem to change to treat virtual reality like the destination itself. However, there are multiple angles to this statement. Firstly, the technology is not robust enough. Secondly, the tourist has no control over the areas that they would visit and thus have to depend upon the travel agents choice of place and location. Having said that we know that will be difficult for VR technology to completely replace the traditional travel but it can obviously complement the traveling experience and may act as an escape in the pandemic when people are locked in their homes.
The virtual reality will help the tourism industry to take on a "new normal," in two ways: Firstly, enticing people to travel again by acting as a powerful destination marketing tool, secondly as a temporary escape for people who are yet not willing to travel. Apart from facilitating temporary escapism and entertainment, VR technology can also help increase social interaction in a time where it is difficult to achieve in reality.
Researchers all over the world are still exploring ways in which this technology can be leveraged by the tourism industry to provide real value and purpose with an objective to improve overall strategic investment and management. In an interview, Virginia Messina, managing director of WTTC told that it would take tourism sector up to 10 months to stand on its feet again after the outbreak is under control, thus in the coming months, we may expect to see new innovations in the technology disrupting the tourism sector.


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