1 in 5 Australians have used virtual reality to pick a holiday destination

Andrew Munro 16 August 2017 NEWS

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Tourism Australia explores VR advertising, but might be late to the party.

"VR is potentially a game changer for the travel sector... providing a level of immersion and engagement unmatched by other media," says the report from Tourism Australia.

It has a lot of reason to be enthusiastic about it. Not only has it found a new not-so-secret advertising weapon, but virtual reality (VR) is especially good for marketing Australia to the rest of the world, with the most popular virtual destinations being those involving wildlife, coastlines and underwater exploration, all of which Australia has in abundance.

Tourism Australia might be late to the party though, with the same report also finding out that almost 1 in 5 Australians (19%) have already been using VR to pick holiday spots, ahead of 14% from the UK and on par with 19% in the USA. The idea might not have occurred to most, however, with only slightly more (25% on average, 30% in Australia) saying they planned to use VR to help pick a holiday destination in future.

With VR getting better and cheaper all the time, it's probably not going to be long before those numbers pick up.

Other countries have already been eagerly marketing their sights with VR. Macau's tourism agency, for example, has been touring Sydney and Melbourne with VR displays to show off its finest.

Australia might have a bit more luck though, with a stronger focus on the high-testing water and wildlife combination. Of the 18 destinations on offer, the most popular was Ningaloo Reef, where virtual guests got to swim with whale sharks, and Port Lincoln where virtual visitors swam with sea lions.

People optimistically said they liked how VR let them "get a feel" of a destination, but many others also pointed out that a slightly disappointing VR preview helped keep high expectations in check.

If you have a Google Cardboard viewer, you can download the app and see it for yourself at Australia.com/360.

In no particular order the full list of spots designed to showcase the best of Australia, with Uluru conspicuously absent, is:

  • Biddlecombe Cascade, Northern Territory
  • Katherine Gorge, Northern Territory (gorge reveal, kayakers & rock art)
  • Vlasoff Cay, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland
  • Whitehaven Beach and Hamilton Island, Queensland
  • Gold Coast, Queensland (surfing)
  • Gold Coast Skypoint, Queensland
  • Sydney Harbour, New South Wales
  • Lake Burley Griffin, Australian Capital Territory, (rowing experience)
  • Murray River fishing, New South Wales and Victoria (horse riding)
  • Great Ocean Road, Victoria
  • McLaren Vale, South Australia (4WD Sellicks beach & winery)
  • Kangaroo Island, South Australia
  • Stokes Bay, Kangaroo Island, South Australia
  • Port Lincoln, South Australia
  • Three Capes Track, Tasmania
  • Fortescue Bay, Tasmania
  • Rottnest Island, Western Australia
  • Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia

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