The Future of Tourism is Virtually Here


More and more of us are travelling each year, but are we getting the most for our money? I’d say probably not, but the future’s looking brighter. As the latest Ancient World in London bloggers’ challenge suggests, travel continues to buck the economic meltdown. And it’s not surprising: at a time when it takes longer to get across London by car than to fly to the far end of Europe, and for less cash, why not globetrot?

Much more of us are looking to infuse some culture into our foreign sojourns. But old-school P2P websites and shoddily slapped-together online guides are doing little to help anyone get the most out of their trips. But that’s not say the web won’t play a key role in the future of travel. The next generation of cultural guides are here already, and they’re a heap more interactive than your average Eye-Spy.

The virtual world is so much more than chatter and armchair affairs

People are beginning to realise that virtual spaces can mean a lot more than breathless chatter and armchair affairs. They can also be honed as tools to explore the world. Some may be little more than a montage of snaps roaming around the Mayan morass. But now things are a lot more advanced, and one university even offers culture vultures the chance to relive a seventh century Cambodian temple online. Today Heritage Key is pushing the virtual vanguard, offering the chance to get up close and personal with two of the ancient world’s greatest landmarks: the Valley of the Kings and Stonehenge.

Plenty of prospective explorers will still choose to pick up a book to learn about where they’re going. But visiting virtual sites means we can discover great places at our own pace, play games and interact with the online environment and dig deeper into the history and people who’ve made that spot what it is today. Of course there’s nothing quite like visiting somewhere famous in the flesh – from Angkor Wat to ancient Rome. But the future of virtual spaces means we’ll all know what we’re looking at when we get there.