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What we consider as digital or virtual tourism has been as a support to the tourist industry and tourism exposure. Used mainly in the promotion of a destination or experience, designed to engage a consumer in the planning stages and commit them to travel, but not anymore.

The advent of change has brought virtual tourism to the forefront, with people at home and seeking distractions more than ever. What is Virtual Tourism? The concept is not new, “Armchair Travellers” have existed for centuries. Through state-of-mind; absorbed in a book, in photographs, through storytelling, guidebooks, and even more recently, through television or other media to experience the world. Virtual Tourism is the modern, digital experience of travel.

COVID-19 became a revolution for virtual tourism. Socially restricted,with any existing travel plans on hold and the uncertainty about when holidays would be allowed again, people began to search – as a distraction, as an escape; and tourism stakeholders answered. Some already had virtual experiences in place, so they added more or diversified their offerings. Others stepped into the digital tourism world seriously for the first time. Their strategy is to keep their destination top of mind and to secure the long-term viability of their product through the recovery of the industry. The industry went from complete crisis to the discussion of innovative ways to achieve a sustainable recovery. Virtual tourism has a central place in this discussion primarily for international or overseas travel, with borders likely to remain closed for an uncertain time. One of the benefits for People with Disability is that more significant, more immersive online content can support decision making for travel, on a higher level than ever before.  Accessible Tourism at it's best. Travel with no quarantine.

As an online traveller, you can choose the pace, the vibe and even how long you want the experience to last. From short video clips to tour-in-your-own-time experiences that take as long as you decide, there are so many options out there. From galleries, museums, hits on Broadway, skyline webcams, and remote-control tours, a remarkable experience is out there waiting for you. At the end of this article, we point you to some diverse opportunities, but you can search for your own to fulfil your online travel bucket list.

Some ways to search for your virtual experience

  • By destination
  • By experience – Culture, Adventure, Food, Rest orRelaxation
  • By accessibility features 
  • By interest – eg. Family genealogy,
  • By keywords – eg. Virtual Tourism Experience, Digital Tourism, Online Tourism, Armchair Travel, Virtual Travel
  • By price – Free experiences or decide if you would like to pay, for example, Broadway shows.
  • By platform – Webcam, YoutubeVirtual Reality
  • By familiar towns that you love to visit
  • From your “real” travel bucket list

If you would like to browse some examples of the types of digital travel out there, see our blog post on “The New Armchair Travellers”. We discuss sites to browse, Virtual Reality in tourism, and have rounded up links to get you started on your next digital holiday.


This article originally appeared in the July - August 2020 Edition of IDEAS newsletter.

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