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Beyond Borders: Can Web3 Metaverse Platforms Unlock the Future of Travel?

Last Updated March 11, 2024 12:28 PM
Guest Writer
Last Updated March 11, 2024 12:28 PM
By Guest Writer
Verified by Ana Alexandre
Key Takeaways
  • Travel is one of the world’s greatest privileges for those who can afford it.
  • The metaverse should only serve to expand and augment the existing travel experience.
  • Regulatory clarity is needed to address questions of liability, ownership, and data privacy surrounding meta-tourism.

The following article is written by Lisa Gibbons, the founder of the Metaverse Tourism Association.

In a recent poll, I asked people if they believed the metaverse could be part of the future tourist experience. One response really stood out: “Please don’t take away my amazing trips. Travel is awesome.” This response only poses more questions.

Where do you go on your trips? How often do you travel? What about the people who can’t travel? There are plenty of reasons why the metaverse and immersive technology is gaining momentum. Let me outline just a few here today.

Crafting Inclusive Digital Travel Experiences

One of the major advantages of hosting experiences in the metaverse is that the environments are borderless and inclusive. Travel is one of the world’s greatest privileges for those who can afford it.

However, a large portion of our entire population is restricted from experiencing the culture of another country on the ground. Think about people with disabilities, people cut off due to Visa restrictions, financial constraints, health issues, or due to work commitments.

Did you know that some of the wealthiest countries in the world have limited annual leave. In the U.S., there is no federal or state statutory minimum paid vacation or paid public holidays. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, full-time employees earn , on average, ten vacation days after one year of service.

Along comes the metaverse, and we have a new form of exploration, a new way to showcase our different cultures, and, more importantly, it is not restricted due to our physical or financial circumstances.

One recently launched example is in Saudi Arabia, where they announced  a national cultural metaverse platform offering cultural shows, historical walks, and performances. This essentially gives potential visitors a flavor of what an experience in Saudi Arabia could entail.

The level of detail in this virtual environment is impressive. Still, communication and storytelling are lagging behind. The development of virtual environments requires skillful tourism professionals with experience designing products for public consumption. The gaps in providing engaging user experiences will diminish, once more storytellers are involved.

The beauty of virtual tours in the metaverse is that they can be accessed anytime, anywhere, providing convenience and flexibility many people need to manage their time today.

Revolutionizing the Way We Explore

Virtual worlds provide ways to connect with tourists pre- and post-the actual physical journey. When it comes to booking a trip, many searches, research, and actions take place before we ever set foot in a destination.

Consider your mindset as you begin to plan a holiday. What if you could embark on a virtual tour that would provide you with a customized itinerary for a destination? With the advent of spatial computing and virtual reality, the research stage becomes part of the journey itself.

Web3 metaverse platforms like Sandbox, Decentraland, and Upland, open ways to gamify and augment interactive spaces for travelers to connect. Gamification is a powerful tool that enhances engagement. New in-game elements like non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and rewards are the essence of a digital loyalty program.

Playful education could easily become the norm within the marketing stack of tourism providers, as they edge closer to hybrid tourism products. Look around—everyone’s on their mobile phones (even when they go on holiday). Give the tourist a way to engage pre, during, and post their journey.

A Sustainable Alternative

Although tourism may have some negative impacts on the environment, it is still one of our most treasured industries and a positive economic driver for countries around the world. According to UN Tourism, there were an estimated 1.3 billion  international tourist arrivals, last year, and international tourist receipts were $1.4 trillion. With these staggering numbers, it is clear that tourism is a critical component of society.

However, with continued unrest across various regions and unpredictable weather patterns, some of our most loved destinations are under threat. Just last year, the famous Greek island of Rhodes was forced to evacuate  holidaymakers due to fierce wildfires that forced officials to declare a state of emergency. Across Europe, there have been consecutive wildfires that have grown increasingly complex to predict and maintain.

From a sustainability standpoint, the numbers are hard to ignore, with 192,851 hectares of these wildfires within the EU biodiversity reservoir of Natura 2000. Furthermore, the economic losses due to wildfires are above 2.5 billion per year, according to  the European Parliament. When planning future scenarios, it is time to consider alternatives and new ways to experience cultures.

Metaverse platforms are beginning to demonstrate how our virtual identities are closely connected to our physical notions of identity. The sense of belonging that many of us feel from the culture of our country can also be found through our connections with online communities.

This sense of self, demonstrated via interactions within virtual environments, becomes crucial in understanding how culture will be consumed in the future.

Bridging Cultures Through Meta-Tourism

To return to the initial poll response of “Please don’t take away my amazing trips,” the metaverse should only serve to expand and augment the existing travel experience. It should also allow for greater inclusivity and tearing down those geographical borders that prevent so many from accessing slices of another culture that broaden our horizons.

With great potential comes great responsibility: regulatory clarity is needed to address questions of liability, ownership, and data privacy surrounding meta-tourism and digital twins.

In the metaverse, the possibilities are endless. It’s a world where our avatars not only reflect who we are but also empower us to explore new versions of ourselves. This includes new ways to experience culture, history, a sense of place, and a sense of self.

About the author: Lisa Gibbons  is the founder of the Metaverse Tourism Association and a passionate entrepreneur and educator. She is advocating for a hybrid future for the travel industry where sustainability is a key factor. In 2017, she founded Orchards Near Me, a platform dedicated to sustainability, tourism and wild food. She is also co-founder of the first Irish Pub in the Web3 Metaverse. She has a Masters in International Tourism, is fascinated by the opportunities of virtual environments to create a more sustainable future.

Disclaimer: The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the article belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to CCN, its management, employees, or affiliates. This content is for informational purposes only and should not be considered professional advice.

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