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5 ways AR and VR are transforming Tourism

August 2023

Since the pandemic, the tourism industry has slowly started to get back on track. We look at the ways in which AR and VR can be important tools for tourism as it makes its comeback.

The face of tourism may have changed forever post pandemic, but despite the challenges of the last three years (both physical and sociological) people are as keen as ever to travel.

UNWTO research found that there were “twice as many people traveling during the first quarter of 2023 than in the same period of 2022, with an estimated 235 million tourists traveling internationally" between January and March of this year.

There’s still work to be done though, and in a world where digital is the new norm and digital landscapes have become just as impactful as real ones, how can incorporating new technology encourage people to leave the safety of their homes and get back out there to see the world?

Augmented and Virtual Reality technology enhances our experience of the world; it provides us with another layer of reality that ignites our imagination, our senses and brings experiences to life. In this article we look at 5 ways the tourism industry can and has integrated AR and VR to boost engagement and enhance the travel experience of tourists.

Booking your holiday

There are so many exciting places to visit in the world, it can be impossible to know where to start! What if customers could experience a glimpse of their destination and be transported there virtually before they book their tickets?

Travel World VR had travel agents in mind when they launched their VR app. Using the app, clients can promote destinations and inspire customers through a 360-degree video experience and cinematic VR production of major destinations around the world, including cruise liners and resorts. The perfect upgrade to the age old travel brochure and an innovative way to get people excited about their travels.

Interactive advertising

We all know that waiting at the airport can feel tedious. Imagine if a billboard, magazine feature or brochure could come to life? Delta Airlines created an AR game called Cloud Crew to keep children entertained whilst waiting for their flight. The game invites them to fly their own jet — the perfect way to keep kids busy (and adults too!)

Your personal tour guide

Rather than fumbling around in your bag to find that ripped up, pen-stained and poorly folded map, imagine if your travel guide could be digital, easily accessible and personalized at the touch of a button. More importantly, imagine it’s available to use offline so you don’t need to be searching for wifi or signal in a foreign country (or worse, paying for data)!

Hub Hotels have incorporated this idea directly into their hotel designs, with an interactive map of the City of London displayed on the walls of each of their rooms. Guests can scan a QR code to download an app into which they can enter their preferences and interests. They can then scan the map in their room to view a tailor made list of recommended places to visit during their stay, all perfectly pinpointed right before the and saved to their phone for when they are out and about.

Educate your guests

Once your guests have saved their personalized map of places to visit, why not give them some more exciting updates whilst they are out and about? Smartify is an AR app widely used by famous museums around the world, including Tate Britain and the Louvre. Whilst observing the art works before them, visitors can hold up their smartphone, using the app to scan the work and access detailed information and historical backgrounds of each work of art.

Choosing the perfect dish

After exploring all day, it’s time for a well earned meal! Have you ever wanted to see what a dish will look like before ordering it? We’ve all had that experience at a restaurant of watching the other tables to see what people have ordered to help you decide! This is another place where AR has come in handy. U.S food brand Bareburger uses snapchat technology to allow customers the chance to view their menu items before they order, either online or in their restaurants, in a digital 3D format.


It’s clear that AR and VR technology can be incredible tools for the Tourism industry to utilise as travel becomes more and more popular post pandemic, helping companies provide more enticing, immersive experiences for their customers. As these technologies develop and become more and more integrated in our travel experiences, the sky really is the limit for Tourism!


  1. Photo by Tobias on Unsplash

  2. Photo by Smartify

  3. Photo by Bareburger / Digital Trends

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