Virtual Tour during Pandemic

The pandemic has successfully induced a digital transformation in various industries, especially tourism. Not only on the business actors, but also on the tourists themselves. One of the digital transformations and innovations in the tourism sector that was born due to the Covid-19 pandemic is virtual tour technology (Andrianto, Kusumah, Md Rashid, Buja, & Arshad, 2021; Jagadtya & Aisyianita, 2020; Muhamad, 2021; Sari, Hadianti, & Darmawan, n.d.).

The implementation of virtual tours in tourist attractions and tourist destinations is experiencing rapid development (Cheung, Tsang, & Wong, 2017; Iswahyudi et al., 2021; Robbani, 2021; Soraya & Martyastiadi, 2021; Walmsley & Kersten, 2020). Previously, we recognized the existence of VR (Virtual reality) as marketing purposes, to attract potential tourists to visit, currently, VR is a product of tourism itself and is packaged in the form of virtual traveling or virtual tour packages. Virtual tour technology allows tourists to explore a place as if they were there. By using virtual reality, for example, one can explore a place using only a laptop or other electronic device without having to go to the destination.

Virtual tourism is believed to not be able to replace the social needs of traveling in the community. However, recent research illustrates that this virtual travel habit is predicted to continue to be carried out by the community even though the pandemic ends (Iswahyudi et al., 2021). With the new normal, people will demand more virtual tours of tourist destinations or attractions. Tourists will choose to see virtually the destination or tourist attraction they are going to before actually going there. This is to ensure that the destination or attraction is in accordance with the wishes and needs of tourists. In addition, virtual tours are believed to have high implications for visit intention. (Iswahyudi et al., 2021). Considering this, the ability to create virtual tours will be essential for attraction managers, tourist destinations, tour operators, or for anyone who wants to make virtual tours as tour packages for sale.

Prior pandemic, Virtual tour has been generated worldwide with diverse technologies, in numerous destinations, different purposes, and released in several online media. For example, the support of virtual tours in cultural tourism education (Chiao, Chen, & Huang, 2018), virtual tour for more novel and complementary form of visualization in museum (Walmsley & Kersten, 2020); virtual tour for conservation projects (Mah et al., 2019; Napolitano, Scherer, & Glisic, 2018); virtual tour using robot for helping disable people exploring tourism attraction (Cheung et al., 2017); and virtual tour for promoting Taiwan dark tourism (Wu & Lee, 2018).

Pandemic of Covid-19 creates higher number of virtual tours and tourists (Sari et al., n.d.). Tourism is indicating much more trends in mediated technology and information as well as ICT than ever before, which generates enhancement in tourists’ experiences (Khalili & Ghanei, 2017). Many tourism organization offers virtual tour in responding the closure of tourism destination due to pandemic. Some of the event using a 360 camera, unscripted-live tour, real-time technology, online meeting application (zoom, Cisco Webex, Google Meet, etc), or mix of them. The online video platform such as Youtube also provide many channels offering virtual video tours with similar technology and can be freely watched.

There are still so many to explore in virtual tour, as the number of virtual tour is predicted to continue grow. In the future, people will see the virtual tour before they are pysically visit the destination.