The Perks of Virtual Tourism | Rick GarsonThe world of tourism and travel is widening thanks to virtual technology.

Arnold Schwarzenegger starred in the 1990 action thriller “Total Recall,” a film that portrayed him as a factory worker by the name of Douglas Quaid. While the film’s story takes audiences to Mars, one of the interesting moments of the futuristic thriller takes place right here on Earth, when Quaid visits a facility called ReKall. ReKall is a company that implants memories of vacations for a fee. In the film, the decision to visit ReKall provokes dire results, but the idea of vacationing without sitting on or plane, or even sitting in a car has taken root in the minds of many.

No, there has been no technology developed to manipulate the mind into believing that you’ve spent two months in Hangzhou while you’ve simply spent a few hours in a clinic. However, a great deal of money has been invested into the pursuit of convenience and comfort granted though virtual vacations. Picture it: images of supple sands surrounding you while you relax on your favorite sofa.

Virtual reality seeks to better and best our reality by forgoing the bouquets of tour books, brochures, and friend recommendations. Instead, many seek out virtual reality (VR) vacation experiences to rival real vacations or gain unprecedented travel insight. Panoramic videos can be viewed on Facebook or YouTube; and viewing tools, such as Google Cardboard or Oculus Rift, help to elevate the experience.

The time-saving effort will impact and disrupt the world of tourism and hospitality. According to Sebastian Naylor, an online marketing director for Lonely Planet, the virtual trips “can help give people a more immersive sense of a destination, so they may then want to go and experience it firsthand themselves.”

Marriott Hotels assembled their Travel Brilliantly program, where they distributed two-minute VR postcards of the Andes Mountains in Chile, as well as the streets of Beijing and an ice cream shop in Rwanda. Numerous other hotel chains have launched similar experiments, including Hilton Inn Express, Best Western Hotel and Resorts, and Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts. Airlines have also jumped in on the fun, with Australian carrier Qantas temporarily offering tourist similar features. United Airlines created a produced called Polaris allowing users to feature a virtual walk. Also, the five-minute feature film, titled ‘Reimagine’, starring Nicole Kidman, utilized virtual reality technology thanks to Etihad Airlines.

The virtual reality device can offer a clear glimpse into street experiences in Yosemite National Park, The Venetians, West Hollywood, Houston, New York City, Machu Picchu and Paris. Microsoft and NASA also teamed up to offer ‘travelers’ mixed-reality experiences. Virtual visitors are granted an unbelievable opportunity to see places that they would otherwise never see due to financial, physical, or geographical restrictions.

“VR, when done right with great visuals and audio, offers the most immersive brand experience possible other than the real thing,” said YouVisit CEO Abi Mandelbaum. “It’s a trip in and of itself.”

No one truly believes that virtual reality can replace the act of travel, but this immersive experience can enhance travel and tease adventure. One wonders what we’ll see next as we continue to move toward more dynamic and life-like virtual features.

Rick Garson is driven by the possibility of innovation and growth in the entertainment industry every day. He has been at the helm of groundbreaking projects, including the famed Billboard Music Awards. Interested in learning more about Rick Garson, entertainment, travel, and entrepreneurship? Please visit and!