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Virtual Tourism: How to Experience the World During the Pandemic

The pandemic is still going strong for most countries, including the UK. England is now easing restrictions, with theatres, casinos, bowling alleys, and more reopening as long as social distancing measures are observed. However, it doesn’t mean that you can start travelling without fear.

There is no vaccine just yet. Plus, a lot of nations haven’t flattened the curve yet. This is why some of them, such as Hong Kong, Hungary and Australia, still haven’t opened their borders to foreigners. Even if their tourism industry is suffering at this time, these countries just can’t risk possible contamination from tourists.

So if you have travel plans for this year or even early next year, consider them cancelled. If you still want to see the world, you can do so without leaving the comfort of your home.

Enter Virtual Reality

One of the best ways to experience the world from your living room is through virtual reality (VR). Tourism agencies across the globe are offering VR versions of their most coveted attractions such as churches, museums, markets, and even safaris.

VR is a computer-generated, three-dimensional simulation of an environment. You can experience VR using different devices, from computer-connected VR helmets to your smartphone docked on a specialized VR headset. Both options can perfectly immerse you into a different tourist attraction from your house or whatever affordable student accommodation you’re stuck in. What’s great about these VR destinations is that they’re not only well-made; a lot of them are also free to visit at any time.

Here are the best VR tourist destinations to visit:

1. Kenya: See Diverse Wildlife

Kenya is one of the countries that relies a lot on tourism for revenue. Since the pandemic broke out, they’ve already lost more than $750 million. To attract tourists once the borders open once more, the tourism agency created a live-stream drive through the safari.

Apart from efforts from the government, there are a variety of companies in Africa that offer immersive 360-degree virtual reality videos of Kenya’s camps and safaris such as Asilia, one of the biggest safari companies in the continent. Other countries in Africa, such as Rwanda, are also offering virtual walkthroughs of their cities and cultural destinations.

2. U.S.A.: Visit Iconic Theme Parks

If you’ve always wanted to visit Disneyland or Disney World, the mouse has you covered. It offers 360-degree panoramas of its iconic attractions in Disneyland Park, Disney California Adventure Park, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Disney Springs, Downtown Disney District, and more. This was done in collaboration with Google. Want to have an idea of what riding the iconic space mountain feels like? Visit Disney World’s YouTube channel for virtual theme park rides.

Orlando, the city Disney World Resort is located, has other great theme parks like Legoland, SeaWorld, Universal Orlando Resort and more. They also offer virtual reality rides such as SeaWorld’s Kraken Unleashed roller coaster.

3. France: Get Up Close with the Best Art Pieces

While it is exciting to use VR technology for action-packed activities such as virtual roller coaster rides, it’s just as fun to utilize them for more relaxing ones—like viewing art. There’s no better digital destination to enjoy art than France’s museums, more specifically, The Louvre.

This facility houses the finest collection of paintings and sculptures such as the popular Mona Lisa. Its website features multiple tours of its different rooms. If you want to see one of France’s biggest and most coveted piece of art, the Eiffel Tower also offers virtual tours. It takes you to the top of the exhibit/pseudo radio tower and see France from a completely different perspective.

4. Mars: An Out-of-this-world Experience

colorful paper airplanes

Go to a destination that only a few trained and qualified professionals, aka astronauts, have been to—Mars. Google recently partnered with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for Access Mars. It’s a project to create and capture the real surface of Mars, as seen by the Curiosity Rover itself.

The tour features four sites that were remarkable to the agency’s mission: the landing site itself, Pahrump Hills, Murray Buttes, and Marias Pass. It also recorded Curiosity’s view of the very last location it visited: Mount Sharp. Being a tourist on mars is definitely a one-of-a-kind experience.

Travelling is one of the most enjoyable activities anyone can experience. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic ruined a lot of plans for 2020, or even early 2021. But there are other ways to experience what different countries have to offer. VR opens a digital door to the best destinations such as the Kenyan safaris, The Louvre, Disney World, and even the surface of Mars using just a VR headset and a computer or smartphone. Most of these VR destinations are free, too, so you can visit them anywhere and anytime.

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