But is discovering the world from behind a computer screen without getting off the sofa really tourism? No, say travel lovers. Yes, say those who have tested AMAZON EXPLORE, the all-new virtual visit and experience platform from Jeff Bezos. The truth, as often is the case, is no doubt somewhere between the two.
Is virtual travel the latest must-see destination?
The pandemic has forced us to rethink, if not simply cancel, so many of our regular activities. Travel is at the forefront of these shake-ups. While Covid has effectively redrawn the world’s tourist maps and accelerated the development of more local and sustainable holidays, it has also made more distant destinations inaccessible. Fortunately, significant progress in technology may have opened up new horizons.
Video-conferencing takes you on a virtual journey.
It’s undeniable. 2020 will have been the year of the videoconference. For work, school and socialising, apps, software and video-conferencing equipment have been massively seized upon in recent months by all and sundry. This new way of living could well bring a smile to the tourism sector in future. As is so often the case, it’s to the GAFAM we turn, and more specifically to AMAZON. One of the biggest players in global commerce launched AMAZON EXPLORE in September. This brand-new service lets customers book and live through direct, virtual experiences with the help of local experts, (almost) as if you were there yourself.
Is AMAZON EXPLORE the future of virtual travel?
This afternoon, how about a bit of shopping in downtown Tokyo? Or a makeover in a hip store in the USA? Would you be more interested in a personalised tour of Quebec’s old town with a passionate guide. All these and more are on offer and can be experienced in the comfort of your own home for between $50 and $70. There’s no pre-recorded video here. It involves an individual live audio and video session between you, behind your screen, and an on-the-spot guide who adapts to your needs and desires.
Be the hero of your virtual journey
Here, it’s you who gets directly involved. You can ask your questions or direct the experience by asking your guide to dwell on a particular detail. You can, of course, take photos and make purchases. The guide pays and your payment goes through AMAZON’s secure platform for reimbursement. So, will AMAZON EXPLORE disrupt the tourism sector? Well we might ask. If the experience is very realistic and allows local stakeholders – guides, shopkeepers and craftsmen – to benefit from new opportunities, could it in the long term take the place of ambling through, seeing where the wind takes you or people-watching from a café terrace? Perhaps not yet!
The Bottom Line
Video-conferencing technology is constantly developing to the point that in future it could offer us new virtual travel experiences. That’s what AMAZON is betting on with AMAZON EXPLORE. Ready for take-off from your screen?
Crédit photo : iStock, Amazon Explore.