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Virtual reality to play an increasing role in travel, survey suggests

A survey of global travelers shows that a third would be ready to embark on a multi-day virtual trip next year. Still, most prefer traditional travel options to a pixelated seashore.

43% of respondents that took part in a global survey commissioned by travel platform Booking.com said they would turn to virtual reality (VR) next year for vacation inspiration. The platform forecasted that travel will enter the metaverse “in earnest” next year and projected the trend to grow even stronger after 2023 as haptic feedback technology improves.

“Haptic feedback, the use of touch to communicate with users, will make virtual travel a truly immersive experience, delivering a credible sense of 3D touch, such as the feel of soft grains of sand and the warmth of the sun,” Booking.com said.

While 60% of respondents said they do not believe the VR travel experience to be as fulfilling as the real thing, 35% would still sign up for a multi-day VR trip in 2023. According to Booking.com, this shows the medium’s potential beyond the “try before you buy” concept.

The survey also showed that VR could boost travel instead of replacing it. 46% of respondents said they would be more likely to travel to previously undesirable destinations if they could first experience them virtually.

“While the metaverse will offer a new way to experience travel in the year ahead, it still won’t stop people from booking a ticket to their next destination,” the platform said.

The results are part of the larger Travel Predictions 2023 research that surveyed more than 24,000 respondents across 32 countries. “If 2022 was about the triumphant return of travel, 2023 will be about creatively reimagining it amidst the chaos,” it said.

According to the survey, war, societal polarisation, inflation, and climate change concerns will dictate travel choices next year. Every other respondent said they would seek off-the-grid experiences to “escape from reality” or travel to destinations that would cause a “complete culture shock.”

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