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Tourism in the Metaverse: Transitioning to a Hybrid Future of Travelby@lillgibbons
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Tourism in the Metaverse: Transitioning to a Hybrid Future of Travel

by Lisa GibbonsMarch 21st, 2023
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According to a recent Technavio report, the global metaverse market in travel and tourism is up over 25% in 2022. Although the market is fragmented with several different platforms offering a range of tourism related products, the revenue for this industry in transition is expected to grow to $188 billion by 2026.
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According to a recent Technavio report, the global metaverse market in travel and tourism is up over 25% in 2022. Although the market is fragmented with several different platforms offering a range of tourism related products, the revenue for this industry in transition is expected to grow to $188 billion by 2026.

Covid19 restricted our travel like never before. From an insider's standpoint, it was devastating for many travel operators who were unable to service their clients, manage existing bookings, or plan for future bookings — and that's not even taking the airline refund nightmare into account.

From large OTA's like booking.com to smaller, local travel agencies, travel was at a standstill. Airlines were thrown into chaos, tourist destinations were empty and the knock-on effect included job losses and long-term industry damage.

Corporate travel was replaced by Zoom meetings and virtual conferences. Technology played a pivotal role in keeping industries alive during this time but also ensuring that we stayed connected in a world that was extremely isolated. 

As the world grappled with the future of travel, it became clear that physical travel and the ultimate need to escape from our daily lives weren't going away. However, the lack of physical travel options during the pandemic forced us to search for alternative forms of tourism. That's when the virtual tourism market really began to take shape.

Catering for the new virtual tourist market

There are five stages of the travel buyer's journey. Inspiration, planning, booking, experiencing and sharing. These stages of motivation will change as a tourist explores both physical and digital travel opportunities. The fascinating element of Web3 travel is the borderless opportunity to create unique experiences. 

The feasibility of tourism attractions that require stringent planning permissions and are limited by physical restraints is eliminated with the click of a button in the virtual world. This provides inspiration for those of us who love to create entertainment for the pleasure of others. If you are in the business of hospitality, then the metaverse offers un-imagined potential for discovering how transferrable your skills really are. 

Although the metaverse cannot replace physical travel, it can create the desire to travel and the ability to explore or travel around virtual environments in new ways. Simulated experiences can include virtual reality headsets that create the sights, sounds, feelings and even smells of different places. Putting users in the shoes of local people to pre-plan travel experiences can make a place more tangible and allow for pre-travel exploration. Using an avatar, tourists can take a virtual tour, interact with other avatars and imagine what it feels like to be in the physical space. 

Where will tourists go in the metaverse?

There are many metaverse platforms providing unique use cases for the tourism industry but most are still only beginning to realize the potential of the industries that are exploring virtual environments. Harnessing the power of data to pluck out the most viable options for new tourist experiences will be important. 

For easy access to virtual entertainment, playing with properties in Upland allows users to get a taste of the monopoly of the metaverse. A unique feature of Upland is its focus on supporting start-ups and businesses. As the tourism industry seeks to carve out its place in the virtual world, opening a Meta Venture in Upland may provide a way to test new business models and engage a new community in your brand values. It has emerged as one of the fastest-growing virtual worlds. With over 3 million users and counting, Upland has become a metaverse super app due to its accessibility across Android, iOS, and VR headsets.

Experimenting with a pixelated world of gamified experiences is one way to provide a new lease of life to the travel industry. Attractions in The Sandbox Game are paired with quests and playful entertainment for the end users. Playing host to the first Irish Pub in a Web3 metaverse is a starting point for any metaverse catering for broader entertainment. 

From Metaverse Fashion Week to the largest virtual music festival in the metaverse, although it's only in its infancy, Decentraland is carving out its niche in the events market. Ice Poker house has become a go-to attraction for users of this platform and provides a welcome component of engagement for players interested in spending some evenings online. 

Neoki is a new metaverse platform aimed at providing a home for designers in the metaverse. It could be argued that without designers, travel experiences, both physical and virtual would not exist. Design will be a crucial component of the future as we navigate through these virtual environments and find suitable homes for the tourist attractions we have come to love in the real world. 

Conclusion

While some individuals may be hesitant or unwilling to embrace this technological advancement, others view it as a chance to create innovative offerings. Considering that the tourism industry typically advances alongside advancements in information and communication technologies, it's entirely appropriate to examine how it can incorporate this virtual world.

The metaverse as an advancement of our tourism needs remains a work in progress. Its development requires significant investment in terms of user experience, design and a regulatory framework to monitor user behavior. While some individuals view the metaverse as a way to move towards sustainable tourism and reduce our negative impact on physical environments, the digital infrastructure needs to match the sustainable goals or it may counteract efforts to promote environmentally-friendly tourism.

Although virtual tourism cannot replace real-life experiences, leveraging the metaverse to showcase new tourist experiences and inspire future travel opportunities is worth exploring. In addition, as the world of Web3 is still crying out for transferable skills, the hospitality industry is poised to offer highly trained customer service professionals and communications experts that can articulate the experiences on offer through these new virtual platforms.