Petra on-demand: VR tours refresh tourism marketing
People around the world will soon be able to take virtual tours of the Kingdom’s rose-red city, Petra, according to Project Manger of the iHERITAGE: ICT Mediterranean platform for UNESCO cultural heritage, Talal Aksheh.
He said that this experience will be possible through a production of a 3D film of the ancient city, which will be completed soon, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported on Wednesday.
This technology will increase the number of tourists visiting Petra by helping promote the city all over the world, Aksheh added.
The iHERITAGE platform is a project funded by the European Union under its largest Cross-Border Cooperation (CBC) initiative, the ENI CBC Med.
It aims to enhance access to UNESCO World Heritage List sites in its partner countries, including Jordan, through innovative contents employing augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and mixed reality (MR), according to the ENI CBC Med website.
Associate Professor of Tourism Marketing and Assistant Dean at the School of Tourism and Hospitality at Yarmouk University, Salem Harahsheh, noted that the increasing use of virtual technologies in the tourism industry came in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lockdowns and travel restrictions following the outbreak of the pandemic forced various stakeholders to adopt “innovative” approaches that offer potential visitors to their attractions affordable and less risky options, he told The Jordan Times.
In the post-pandemic period, these technologies are employed to promote tourism by offering users a “try-before-you-buy experience”, Harahsheh added.
“VR videos have become the ultimate marketing tool in the industry; even hotels and airlines are now offering potential customers virtual reality experiences before booking,” he continued.
Harahsheh further explained that virtual tours can help tourists prepare better for their trips and know what to expect by showcasing their destination in a highly interactive and comprehensive manner.
He also pointed out that although virtual tours can’t replace in-person visits, they can offer an accessible alternative in certain cases. For example, there are certain sites in Petra that are very difficult to navigate for older people and persons with disabilities.
Hologram technology, which creates three dimensional projections, can also be utilised to offer tourists dynamic and immersive experiences by depicting the “true spirit” of heritage sites through customised images and videos, according to Harahsheh.
Speaking with The Jordan Times, Nancy Tayyan, an expert in destination marketing and tourism, also stressed the effectiveness of VR technologies in promoting Jordan as a top tourism destination.
“Virtual tours provide potential tourists with an immersive and interactive experience that allows them to walk through the ancient city, in all its beauty and greatness, from the comfort of their homes,” she said.
This experience evokes feelings of “anticipation and excitement”, making people more willing to visit Petra in reality, Tayyan added.
Moreover, it can help promote sites that aren’t easy to access in reality due to their remoteness by encouraging tourists to increase the length of their stay in order to visit them, she continued, noting that Petra requires at least three days to explore all of its sites.
Augmented reality travel app can also enrich tourism experiences through offering users an interactive guide, providing them with information about their surroundings, according to Tayyan.
Source: the Jordan Times.