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Globetrotting from the comfort of your favourite armchair: The big post-lockdown trend?


· Virtual Holidays have seen a huge rise during lockdown as globetrotters’ insatiable hunger necessitates a different way of seeing the world.


· The Virtual Reality (VR) sector is expected to expand rapidly in the coming years


· Cautious holidaymakers are more likely to look at options that allow them to sightsee, without the risk of mixing with large groups of people (and their cooties!).


WHY IS IT INTERESTING?

If you have been bitten by the ‘travel bug’, I’m sure you can appreciate the frustration of not being able to go and do/see exciting things at the moment. That pain, shared by many, has led to a significant rise in the virtual holiday sector. One particular site, Virtual Trips, now welcomes over 5,000 people daily to one of its virtual trips, engaging in experiences from internationally renowned spectacles such as Agra and Luxor, but also catering to the nosiness of your average consumer, by allowing them to step inside the lives of other people and witness the recent snowstorms in London, and flooding in Venice, first-hand.


What’s interesting about this, is its symmetry with the rise in the Virtual Reality industry on the whole. VR is booming, particularly in the USA where figures show 52.1m users experienced something through VR at least monthly in 2020. This is up from 43.1m in 2019 – a rise of just over 20%! This is a global trend, with the VR Industry expected to grow from $6.1bn to $20.9bn by 2025 – that’s a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 27.9%, which is pretty impressive!


You have to question what other industries could jump on the bandwagon and profit from utilising VR tech. I know that we use it at work (fire service) for incident command training, but surely there are other areas that could really profit. I’m looking at you, adult entertainment ;) But anyway, I digress…


Surely people are going to rush back to ‘real holiday’ though? Well, yes and no! Recent surveys show consumer desire to ‘get away’, but not necessarily the same kind of holiday as before. Whereas 44% said they would like to re-visit somewhere in Britain they have previously visited, and 39% expressed a wish to see somewhere new on our shores, only 31% said they were looking to do a short-haul overseas trip, the kind which is most common usually. More interestingly, these statistics also showed 64% of consumers would choose a car as their preferred method of transport, which rules out quite a lot of vacation destinations.



SO WHAT?

Avid globetrotters are the most likely to desire immediate return to in-person experience. As a lot of them use the ‘backpacking’ travel model, and see few people on their travels, they will be able to convince themselves their travels are lower risk anyway.


However, for individuals/families who prefer the more commercialised locations, the pandemic appears to have left them feeling a little less sure. These are the people who are likely to holiday more in Britain and get their international ‘fix’ virtually.


IMHO, I can see Virtual Holidays continuing to be popular, and although they may not mirror the meteoric rise expected from the wider VR industry, I can see them accelerating as we come out of lockdown, as they’re convenient, don’t involve mixing with large groups, and let’s face it…they’re a hell of a lot cheaper!

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