Virtual reality push for cruise ship, airline passengers
CRUISE ship passengers without a porthole and plane travellers in aisle seats could experience their arrival in Sydney in virtual reality under a plan to enrich the visits of all tourists.
Visitors could also stand on the beach at Botany Bay as Captain Cook steps ashore, and experience "first hand" other key events in Australia's history - all piped through virtual reality (VR) headsets.
Tourism & Transport Forum chief executive Margy Osmond yesterday called on Australian tourism providers to "think outside the box" and make greater use of technology to bring in the crowds as part of World Tourism Day.
"In Europe now they're doing this thing where you might go to a castle and you put on VR goggles and the castle becomes populated with medieval knights and battles," Ms Osmond told The Daily Telegraph.
"If you were extending that into the Australian environment, you could be standing in Botany Bay watching Captain Cook sail into the harbour for the first time."
A few major cruise liners have already risen to the challenge - the Royal Caribbean, Disney Cruise Line and Norwegian Cruise Line currently use VR on-board while Carnival uses the technology to promote passenger experiences prior to boarding.
Ms Osmond said something similar could happen for airline passengers who could not see out of the window while flying over Sydney Harbour. "This is the way of the future so we would be encouraging beyond cruise ships to be looking at this as part of what you should be providing," Ms Osmond said.
"We're a global industry; if Australia is going to compete we have to absorb and, in fact, better all of the latest innovation."
The popularity of VR has increased since travel agency Thomas Cook's "try before you fly" 2015 promotion that enabled customers to "fly" over the Manhattan skyline.
Bookings to New York City reportedly spiked 190 per cent that year.
"With virtual reality, apart from creating a visitor experience when you're actually in the environment like the cruise ship one, it's all about inspiring temptation," Ms Osmond said.
"There are limitless applications for this - the only limitation is your own imagination."
Ms Osmond's call coincides with the theme of today's World Tourism Day, which focuses on digital transformation in tourism.