TRAVEL is slowly opening up.
People are flying back home from places they have been stranded at due to the lockdown while others are planning essential trips for work or personal emergencies. A friend of mine travelled to Bengaluru to be with her elderly parents who were alone for the last couple of months. She was worried for their safety and when travel restrictions eased and the airlines began accepting bookings for flights, the first thing she did was fly to them.
While it might look as though things are slowly limping back to normal, the virus hasn’t vanished as yet and infections are still on the rise. It will be a while before people travel on holidays either within the country or abroad. In a world grappling with coronavirus, the idea of travel, as we knew it earlier, has definitely altered.
So what does Travel in the time of Covid look like? Will virtual and interactive online tours become the new normal? Or can we put on smart glasses and travel like Johnny English? One thing is for sure, virtual travel is here to stay. One can travel the world, walk the Great Wall of China, see the Pyramids of Egypt or go to Machu Picchu from the comfort of one’s bedroom.
Google has partnered with the World Tourism Organisation to make a selection of travel destinations, including museums and cultural sites available. People can virtually tour and explore 37 cultural heritage sites from across the world in augmented reality (AR) on Google Search. There are several interactive tours available on social media channels such as Facebook and Instagram as well.
Certain museums and art galleries abroad have always had virtual tours. Now their Indian counterparts have also hopped onto the virtual bandwagon. National Museum, New Delhi, Salar Jung Museum, Hyderabad and Victoria Memorial, Kolkata are offering online exhibitions showcasing sculptures, rare artefacts among other displays. The Smithsonian Magazine has compiled a list of virtual reality experiences, digital exhibits and books for those looking for an armchair travel experience.
Till the world becomes safe again to explore, armchair travel through the virtual reality mode might just be the way to go.